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.

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.

Just Posted

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Freestyle motocross riders bring death-defying tricks to SOEC

Freestyle Motocross World Tour is coming to the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton

South Okanagan emergency department closing overnight

Limited physician availability temporarily closes emergency at South Okanagan General Hospital

Hearts and Hands conference to celebrate health care assistants

The Victoria-based WorkSafeBC conference is happening in Penticton on Oct. 17

Weekend activities to take care of your FOMO

See what’s going on the region this weekend

Video: Okanagan Fest of Ale Society doles out $60,000

The society has given out over $60,000 to Penticton and area not-for-profits since 1996

VOTE: Nature in Focus reader’s choice photo contest

The Penticton Western News Reader’s Choice photo contest

Trump: Saudi king ‘firmly denies’ any role in Khashoggi mystery

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is travelling to the Middle East to learn more about the fate of the Saudi national

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Allen died in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Experts gather to discuss Okanagan water needs

Kelowna environmental water flows conference Oct. 17-18 has global reach

South Okanagan man alleged to have exposed genitals to children

Penticton RCMP said incident occurred at the Kiwanis Park

Transport Canada to take new look at rules, research on school bus seatbelts

Canada doesn’t currently require seatbelts on school buses

Sockeye run in Shuswap expected to be close to 2014 numbers

Salute to the Sockeye on Adams River continues until Sunday, Oct. 21 at 4 p.m.

Michelle Mungall’s baby first in B.C. legislature chamber

B.C. energy minister praises support of staff, fellow MLAs

Most Read