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.

 

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

Just Posted

Sumas First Nation pilots eight-inch gill-net fishery in Sumas/Vedder River

Project in Abbotsford renews fishing practice and data gathering of chinook salmon

Chilliwack home built in 1910 will be saved from demolition

The 110-year-old house on Hope River Road is being relocated to nearby Riverside Drive

New Broadway Street bike lanes ‘confusing’ say Chilliwack residents

Freshly painted bike lanes feature buffered and protected areas along Airport-Broadway corridor

Police watchdog investigating after Abbotsford man seriously injured during arrest

Abbotsford police used ‘less lethal firearm’ and dog in arrest of man believed to have gun

NDP wants Chilliwack-Kent MLA removed from BC Liberal caucus for alleged homophobia

BC Liberal leader, some MLAs apologize for Christian magazine ads but Laurie Throness doubles down

21 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in B.C. as virus ‘silently circulates’ in broader community

Health officials urge British Columbians to enjoy summer safely as surge continues

Tough time for tree fruits as some B.C. farm products soar

Province reports record 2019 sales, largely due to cannabis

Abbotsford woman starts petition to have B.C. government help with IVF costs

Jennifer Kuiken says cost of in vitro fertilization is too high for most people

‘Let’s all do a self-check’: Okanagan mayor reacts to racist vandalism targeting local family

Home of Indo-Canadian family in Summerland was targeted on evening of July 13

Province agrees to multimillion-dollar payout for alleged victims of Kelowna social worker

Robert Riley Saunders is accused of misappropriating funds of children — often Indigenous — in his care

B.C. businessman David Sidoo gets 3 months behind bars for college admissions scam

Sidoo was sentenced for hiring someone take the SATs in place of his two sons

PHOTOS: Inside a newly-listed $22M mega-mansion on ALR land in B.C.

The large home, located on ALR land, is one of the last new mansions to legally be built on ALR land

COVID-19 gives B.C. First Nation rare chance to examine tourism’s impact on grizzly bears

With 40 infrared cameras deployed in Kitasoo-Xai’Xais territory, research will help develop tourism plan with least impact on bears

RCMP searching for culprit behind needle-filled lemons left on Coquitlam-area trails

The two lemons found were thrown away leaving police with little evidence

Most Read