RB Trees notice on a 130 ha farm at Reid Lake near Prince George. It has been planted with trees after being cleared with horses by homesteaders in the early 1900s.

Trees-on-farmland program ‘not expanding’

British company bought three more B.C. farms, but now considering planting areas burned or beetle-killed instead

A British-based manufacturing company is considering switching its B.C. tree-planting program from farmland to areas deforested by fire or pine beetles.

Reckitt Benckiser Group plc added another three farms to its B.C. land holdings over the summer, prompting an accusation in the legislature that it was breaking its promise to suspend planting trees on farmland. The company halted the program in June after more than 10,000 ha of farmland in the Peace, Prince George and Cariboo regions were acquired to use as carbon offsets for the company’s world-wide operations.

Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington released title documents for a 320 ha grain and cattle farm purchased near Dawson Creek in July, three weeks after the company, now known by its initials RB, said the program was halted.

Asked about the timing of the purchase, RB issued a statement saying the company had three signed agreements to buy more B.C. farms when it “paused” its tree planting program to review it. Local governments have objected to productive farmland being reforested, and the effect it would have on farming communities.

“No action has been taken on these properties as RB continues to consult British Columbians on the future of this program,” the company said, adding discussions have continued with neighbouring landowners, provincial, local governments and MLAs.

“Many have highlighted the need for reforestation on lands that have been depleted by the pine beetle or wildfires,” the company said. “It is an option we are exploring.”

Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick said he had a presentation from RB, with suggestions about alternatives to planting more trees on farmland.

“I’m not at liberty yet to disclose those because they were given to us confidentially but I have reason to be optimistic,” Letnick said.

RB’s website says it has planted more than seven million trees in B.C. Letnick said the company has planted most of the 10,000 ha of farmland it acquired up until this spring, and the three new acquisitions bring the total to 12,000 ha.

RB operates around the world, manufacturing and selling food, household and medical products under brands such as Calgon, French’s, Clearasil, Dettol, Scholl, Strepsils, Gaviscon and Woolite.

It describes its B.C. tree planting program as a way to offset carbon emissions from its operations, but it does not intend to trade or sell carbon offsets.

Just Posted

B.C. Health Minister announces plan for new hospital in Terrace

“This means more beds, a level three trauma centre, better surgery and better care,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

B.C. Family Day to move to third week in February next year

Premier John Horgan said the move is to better align the holiday with businesses and families

B.C. to increase minimum wage to $15.20/hour in 2021

Premier John Horgan says next increase will come in June

Sold out 1st annual nordic ski club tour

International gourmet food and beverage stations on ski trails

Andrew Wilkinson takes B.C. Liberal leadership

Dianne Watts’ first-choice lead didn’t grow enough for outsider to win

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

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

B.C. files new legal action against TransMountain pipeline

Province tries to uphold City of Burnaby bylaws, provoking Alberta

BCHL Today: Powell River stuns Vernon and BCHL grads lead Team Canada

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Reports of money laundering in B.C. real estate ‘troubling’: attorney general

News report alleges people connected to fentanyl trade are using B.C. real estate to launder money

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Two more medals for Canada, and men’s hockey loss

Team Canada shines on the speed skating track, but fall short against the Czechs in hockey

RCMP member challenges court to prevent further disciplinary action

RCMP member launches appeal to avoid new hearing over alleged harassment

Port of Vancouver program examines impact of marine noise on local whales

Man-made noises can interfere with orcas’ ability to hunt and communicate with other pod members

Patrick Brown enters Ontario Tory leadership race

Despite sexual misconduct allegations Brown believes he is the right choice for the PC party

Most Read