Photo sent to MLA Lana Popham shows farmland at Reid Lake

B.C. farmland rush on for carbon offsets

British company has 8,500 hectares, but now must get Agricultural Land Commission permission to keep it forested for 100 years

A British company buying up thousands of hectares of cleared farmland in B.C.’s Interior for carbon offset projects will have to get its plans past B.C.’s Agricultural Land Commission first, Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick says.

The B.C. government has compiled a list of farm properties totalling 7,000 hectares from Prince George to Quesnel that have been bought to grow trees, to offset carbon emissions from the U.K. That is in addition to nearly 1,500 hectares east of Vanderhoof that the company bought in 2008.

That land was granted a 100-year covenant against logging that is required to qualify it as a carbon offset for Reckitt Benckiser Inc., a British maker of household and health care products with world-wide sales. It was planted with aspen in 2009-10, according to a Bulkley Nechako Regional District staff report.

Under its program RB Trees, the company has continued to buy farm properties in the Interior. Its website says it has planted seven million trees and the goal is 10 million.

Letnick said a 2011 amendment to B.C. legislation requires permission from the Agricultural Land Commission before a 100-year covenant is valid. Properties bought after 2011 will be a test case for this requirement to seek ALC approval.

“My guess is that if there is marginal land that maybe can’t grow anything but trees, the commission would see fit to give permission,” Letnick said in an interview. “But if the land is good for other purposes, like growing crops, hay or whatever, then the commission would have a different argument to make.”

NDP agriculture critic Lana Popham said she shares the concerns of local governments that reforesting farmland around established communities will reduce food growing capacity and weaken local farm economies. RB Trees is after farmland because it is cleared and accessible, and reforesting it meets United Nations rules for “afforestation,” or adding permanently to forest cover, she said.

“It’s cheap,” Popham said. “The main goal that they have is to find land that is easily planted.”

In an October letter to the Bulkley Nechako regional district, Reckitt Benckiser executive Victoria Wood said its purchases represent less than one per cent of ALR land in the district.

“Our approach is, and always has been, to target land that is marginally productive, such as rough pasture, pasture, hay land and abandoned farms or farms that have been on the real estate market for an extended period of time,” Wood wrote.


Just Posted

VIDEO: LEGO fundraiser builds playground purse

Inspired families built LEGO creations, helped Silver Creek build playground

Sunshine Valley songbird releases EP

Fifteen-year-old Ashley Pater has been singing and performing since age 9

Rescue boat theft marks third in 3 years for Agassiz-based SAR team

Eight-metre Spirit of Harrison rescue vessel was stolen Friday night, found Saturday morning

Hope stylist holds hair-athon for a good cause

Shayla Ross donating all proceeds of $10 cuts to the food bank

Hope arena turns green for hockey tourney

A second attempt at green ice, with proper ice paint, after food colouring experiment last year

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Anti-pipeline protestors block Kinder Morgan tanker near Seattle

Protest was spurred on by the 28 anti-Kinder Morgan activists arrested in Burnaby

Some surprises in new book about B.C. labour movement

“On the Line” charts history of the union movement back to the 1800s

B.C. cyclist races to first win of the season in New Zealand

Casey Brown captures Enduro title by more than two minutes at Crankworx Rotorua

Horse found stuck in muddy field rescued in Maple Ridge

Maple Ridge firefighters set up a pulley system to drag the horse to solid ground

VIDEO: Two Maple Ridge contortionists have sights set on Cirque

The Pair competed at the Viva festival in Vegas and are now auditioning for spot on America’s Got Talent

Notorious Russian troll farm also took swipes at Canadian targets

Targets included oil infrastructure and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Cirque du Soleil aerialist dies after fall during Florida show

Longtime performer fell while performing in VOLTA

Canada earns second Paralympic Games silver in 20 years

Held 1-0 lead in para hockey game from 12:06 of first to dying seconds of third and lost in overtime

Most Read