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.

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

The Kamloops RCMP detachment is asking for the public’s help in finding Kayne Pasco, a Vernon man wanted on several B.C. charges. (Contributed)
Wanted Vernon man believed to be in Kamloops: RCMP

Kayne Pasco, 27, is wanted in the province for several offences

Vernon Morning Star columnist Sam McNair gives an inside look to One Yoga in Vernon. (Sam McNair - Contributed)
Small Business Spotlight: One Yoga Vernon

It’s 2021 and everyone is looking forward to a new year full… Continue reading

A COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon’s Heritage Square long-term care home has now claimed eight lives as of Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
COVID-19 claims another life at Vernon’s Heritage Square

Eight residents of the assisted living facility have died due to the virus to date

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

(Pixabay photo)
Black Press Weekly Roundup: Top headlines of the week

In case you missed it, here’s what made waves throughout the week

Sunnybank in Oliver. (Google Maps)
Sunnybank long-term care in Oliver reports third COVID-19 death

The facility currently has an outbreak with 35 cases attached to it

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Big White Village on Dec. 16. (Big White photo)
11 more COVID-19 cases linked to Big White cluster

Interior Health provided an update on the cluster on Friday

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital surgical unit

Despite 6 South being a surgical unit, RIH said surgeries are continuing at the hospital

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘It’s incredibly upsetting’: Kelowna health care worker demands WestJet ticket refund

Kelowna woman has been waiting almost a year for a refund on her Kelowna to Edmonton flight

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Most Read