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

Wind storm has wreaked havoc on Central Interior

Quesnel, Prince George have outages, but Williams Lake area hardest hit to date

Vital Information Program part of community preparedness and residents’ safety

The VIP is provided free to seniors, to provide critical information to emergency personnel

Rodeo preparations are year-round

The rodeo season doesn’t gear up till April, but Quesnel riders are already getting ready

Letter: provincial residents should have ability to enjoy nature

Green Party’s Weaver re-introduces bill to increase British Columbian’s access to nature

Quesnel youth Riley Wyssen has amazing goals

Marian Gillard interviews this remarkable young girl and finds a depth well beyond her years

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

Complaint against Prince George RCMP in death of Wet’suwet’en man

Thirty-five year old Dale Culver died while in Prince George RCMP custody last summer.

Philadelphia Eagles headed to Super Bowl

After routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington on Vancouver Island

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, vehicles buried under more than three feet of snow

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Mountain caribou habitat protection target of COS patrols

A patrol by the COS resulted in the location of snowmobiles operating in protected caribou habitat.

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Most Read