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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

A Kelowna clinic decided to immunize their patients in a drive-thru flu clinic earlier this month. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Interior Health anticipates increase in flu vaccinations this season

Some 300,000 doses of flu vaccine ready for distribution across Southern Interior

Snowfall in the Okanagan shatters records. (Contributed)
Snowfall in Okanagan breaks records dated back to 1899

Penticton has received over 10 cm today, surpassing the 8 cm record set in 1957

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Voters are saying they felt safe voting in person despite the current pandemic. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Central Okanagan voters talk about their pandemic election experience

Despite an election taking place during COVID-19, residents said they felt safe voting in person

Cole Collingwood casts his mock ballot at Vernon’s Mission Hill Elementary School ahead of the provincial election Oct. 24, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
PHOTOS: Okanagan students cast mock election ballots

At Mission Hill Elementary, the election is a chance to learn about the democratic process

Thanks to efforts by a Kelowna shelter and Elections BC, anyone who wishes to can vote in the 2020 BC Provincial Election, even if they don’t have a fixed address. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Kelowna group ensures people experiencing homelessness can vote

Shelter supervisor says voting ‘a fundamental right’ even for those without a fixed address

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Big White Ski Resort photo)
Big White receives 21 cm of snow in 24 hours

Resort’s snow base 41 cm deep, one month until opening day

The deer were allegedly shot within Princeton town limits, late at night. Black Press File Photo.
Armed man, in full camouflage, allegedly shoots deer in downtown Princeton

‘The list of charges goes on and on,’ said RCMP Sgt. Rob Hughes

Most Read