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

COVID-19: Victoria plumbing company dedicates van for grocery delivery

The Super Plumber uses van to pick up groceries for those in need during COVID-19 pandemic

Fictionalized accounts of pandemics offer glimpses into our COVID-19 present

Contagion might capture the contemporary mood, but pandemics have a long tradition in fiction

B.C. announces $3M for food banks to increase capacity during COVID-19

It is not clear how much of the money will flow towards Greater Victoria food banks

North Saanich drops speed limit on Lands End Road

Speed limit along the road drops to 50 km/h from 60 km/h

VIDEO: Saanich councillor takes residents along for virtual e-bike ride through the CRD

Coun. Colin Plant is taking route requests for future cycling videos

COVID-19: A message from the publisher

We will be making some changes to our print editions during these unprecedented times

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

World COVID-19 update: U.S. expects 100,000 deaths; Oregon declares disaster

Comprehensive update of world news for Sunday, March 19.

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

Ferry corporation says ridership down 70-80 per cent over the last week and a half

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

Most Read