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

Suspects charged after police incident by golf course

Mission and Maple Ridge RCMP combined forces to arrest two men

Mobile complaint clinic coming to Langley Feb. 9

The B.C. Ombudsperson is touring cities, taking complaints against the provincial government

UPDATE: Tsunami warning cancelled for coastal British Columbia

Warning issued following 7.9 earthquake off Kodiak, AK

‘Restless night’ for Semiahmoo First Nation after tsunami warning

Alaska earthquake puts Semiahmoo First Nation on notice

Mission RCMP recover 22 stolen vehicles and several firearms

Charges are still pending after police search two separate properties

Tsunami warnings 101: Canada

Here are some things to know about tsunami alerts in Canada and how they work

Castlegar homicide victim identified

The victim was 38-year-old Jordan Workman of Castlegar, B.C.

B.C. Liberal leadership candidates get one last prime-time pitch

Leadership campaign to be decided in Feb. 3 vote

Homeless evicted from First Nation reserve land say they have nowhere to go

‘Why not just let us stay until spring?’ one camper at Chilliwack site pleads

Andrew Scheer on trade, Trump and Trudeau

Canada’s Conservative leader begins three-day visit to B.C.

Victims restrained, sex toys and cash stolen from B.C. adult store

Armed suspects sought in adult store robbery

UPDATED: 10 Safeways in Lower Mainland to close

Locations in Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Coquitlam, Richmond and Mission slated to shut

Vancouver Islanders ponder need for tsunami siren song

Alarm sounds in Port Alberni but not at the DND base in Esquimalt

Five charged in bid to shut pop-up pot market in Vancouver’s Robson Square

Marijuana flower, edibles, money and some weapons were seized as part of weekend raid

Most Read