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

Disqualified Saanich soccer team disputes ruling

Saanich Fusion U15 girls alleged to have ineligible players

B.C. freestyle skier wins gold

Cassie Sharpe of Comox shines in the halfpipe

UPDATED: Emergency crews rescue pregnant woman from Mount Finlayson

Langford and Metchosin respond to roughly four-hour-long rescue

Victoria police pay special attention to domestic violence

Workshop for officers and others shows how domestic abuse trauma impacts for a long time

Peninsula speed skater has eyes on the podium at BC Winter Games

Tori Kalyniuk will have her Skittles ready before each race

Oak Bay skaters bound for BC Games in Kamloops

Saanich resident aims for second gold

Environmentalists call on Saanich to protect public waterfront

Local environmentalists are calling on Saanich to develop a strategy to stop… Continue reading

Shews take gold at Island wrestling championship

Sisters prepare for provincials in Port Alberni, March 1 to 3

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Canada rounds out Day 11 earning gold in 2 more events

Comox Valley’s Cassie Sharpe and fan-favourites Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir all earned golds

Saanich Braves earn top awards heading into playoffs

MVP, Coach of Year lead Braves against Kerry Park Islanders starting Tuesday

Trudeau announces two-way $1 billion investment deal with India

Some of India’s biggest companies to invest more than $250 million in Canada in the coming years

As ‘Black Panther’ shows, inclusion pays at the box office

At the box office, inclusion is paying — and often, it’s paying off big time

Saanich council gives no credit to tax plan

Efforts by Coun. Fred Haynes to change the financing of municipal election… Continue reading

Washington senator wants B.C. to follow suit and phase out net-pen fish farms

An American ban will be less effective in the shared ecosystem of the Salish Sea, senator says

Most Read