The latest official estimates have shaved nearly two million tonnes off New Zealand's projected net emissions of greenhouse gases over the 2008 to 2012 period.

At today's carbon prices and exchange rates that would leave the country's financial position under the Kyoto Protocol $231 million in the black, $16 million better than the estimate a year ago.

The projections include the estimated effect of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) scheduled to kick in on July 1.

Without the ETS, instead of being 11.4 million tonnes on the right side of the country's Kyoto obligation it would be 22 million tonnes in deficit, costing $446 million at today's carbon prices, Climate Change Minister Nick Smith said.

The biggest change from last year's estimates relates to emissions from agriculture.

They are expected to be 6.4 million tonnes or 3.5 per cent lower than the previous projection because recovery from a widespread drought has been slower than expected and in some regions further drought has occurred.

Sheep numbers fell 5 per cent, beef numbers were stable and dairy numbers lifted 4 per cent, compared with last year's estimates.

The drop in agricultural emissions has been offset by a fall of 5.1 million tonnes or 6 per cent in the net removal of CO2 by forests.

More accurate land use mapping has shown the area of "Kyoto" forest is smaller than previously estimated. The mapping also shows some deforestation of native forest that had not been accounted for.

Smith said the position will not be crystallised until after Kyoto's first commitment period ends in 2012. He said that while the country would be in surplus, that did not mean the Government would be.

The owners of Kyoto forests (established since 1989 on land not previously forested) are eligible to claim credits for the carbon removed while trees grew. To the extent they take up their credits, and the associated liability on harvest, the Government's stock of forest offset credits will reduce and its net liability increase.