B.C. farmland-to-forest project halted

British company says it won't buy or plant any more land while it reviews its project with local officials concerned about land loss

NDP agriculture critic Lana Popham says the province still needs a way to make carbon offset projects subject to Agricultural Land Commission approval. Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick says he is pleased the British program has been voluntarily suspended.

British-based manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser Inc. has suspended its tree-planting program on farmland in the B.C. Interior after continued opposition from local governments.

Communities from the Peace, Prince George and Cariboo regions grew increasingly alarmed as the carbon offset program known as RB Trees for Change accumulated thousands of hectares of cleared farmland and planted seven million trees since it began in 2006. They objected to centrally located and productive farmland being lost, weakening local economies and encouraging new land clearing farther afield.

“Our intent is to review all aspects of the program including land buying criteria,” company spokesperson Lynn Kenney told Black Press Friday. “We will do so through discussions with stakeholders including provincial and local governments, community representatives, our suppliers and others with an interest in the program.”

The B.C. government was informed of the decision June 4, and it was confirmed Friday by Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick.

“I am especially pleased to hear that in conducting their review they will not make any new offers to purchase land, nor will they prepare existing lands, buy seed or plant new trees,” Letnick said.

NDP agriculture critic Lana Popham said this company’s voluntary decision doesn’t prevent others from doing the same thing. Tree growing remains a permitted use under Agricultural Land Commission rules, and RB chose not to apply for long-term covenants against tree cutting that would qualify the project for tradable carbon offsets.

Popham has called for legislative amendments to make any carbon offset program on farmland subject to approval by the Agricultural Land Commission. RB initially said they were only replanting marginal and idle land, but local governments rejected that assessment.

Kenney said the company will continue to maintain the farmland it has planted.

RB Trees also has forestry programs in Thailand and Colombia.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria resident lives well despite dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

New Victoria Conservatory music scholarship recognizes long-time Sidney resident

O. Thomas Webb died in Sidney last year after retiring to the community in 1975

New Oak Bay bylaw supports planting 5,000 new trees

Residents can share thoughts on new tree protection bylaw at Jan. 29 open house

New BC Ferries hybrid-electric vessels arrive in Victoria

BC Ferries plans to add four more hybrid-electric vessels to fleet

Blue Monday is a myth but seasonal affective disorder and winter blues are real

Canadian Mental Health Association says weather can affect mood

VIDEO: Cold snap brings ideal conditions for Okanagan icewine

Take an inside look at how icewine is made

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Ice chunk from truck crushes vehicle windshield on Vancouver Island

None injured, but Nanaimo RCMP say there can be fines for accumulations of ice and snow

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Intense winds en route to Greater Victoria

Winter storm warning in effect for east and west regions while wind warning to hit south and north

Theft victim confronts suspects with baseball bat on Vancouver Island

RCMP in Nanaimo seek to identify of two people alleged to have used a stolen credit card

Most Read