Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick says reforesting farmland in B.C.’s Interior is contrary to the intent of B.C.’s agricultural land reserve, and he’s looking for a way to put a stop to it.
British health and household products manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser Inc. has bought up more than 8,000 hectares of farmland from Prince George south to Quesnel, planting the land with trees and vowing to keep the forest on the land for 100 years or more. Local governments are concerned that long-time farming and ranching land is being lost, and farming communities will be weakened as a result.
Letnick said previously that a 2011 requirement for the Agricultural Land Commission to approve covenants for long-term reforestation of farmland would be required before such lands could be used as carbon offsets for the European carbon market. But a Reckitt Benckiser spokesperson confirmed the company isn’t attempting to claim or trade carbon offsets, so it won’t be seeking a covenant from the ALC.
That leaves Letnick looking for another way to stop the loss of farmland.
“What I’ve been advised is that while they’re not claiming for offsets, they’re using it in their publicity to show that they are doing something that’s environmentally good to offset the negatives that they have back at home,” Letnick said in an interview Monday.
The company’s stated plan to keep the farmland in forest “flies in the face of the [Agricultural Land Commission] Act and the intent of the act, and we will need to look at our options,” Letnick added.
According to Reckitt Benckiser’s website, the company’s B.C. planting project is part of a program to make its global operations carbon neutral for the period 2006-2017. More than seven million trees have been planted and the goal is 10 million trees by next year.
Staff at the Bulkley Valley Regional District contacted Reckitt Benckiser after its first purchase of lands around Vanderhoof in 2010, expressing concern about “centrally located and productive” land being alienated from production. A company representative said only marginal or abandoned land is being used, a claim contradicted last week by Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson.
The company makes popular products including Woolite fabric softener, Calgon detergent, Lysol and Clearasil skin cleanser, which are sold around the world. Its B.C. program is called RB Trees for Change.
“RB does not intend on registering any covenant on title to the lands it has acquired in British Columbia that would restrict the use of such lands,” said Lynn Kenney, communications director for North America. “Instead, Trees for Change is a program we have developed to meet our own internal targets for environmental sustainability.”
The Agricultural Land Commission Act and the Conflict With Reckitt Benckiser’s Reforestation Project
How does the Agricultural Land Commission Act conflict with Reckitt Benckiser’s reforestation project?
The Agricultural Land Commission Act presents legal implications and conflicts with Reckitt Benckiser’s reforestation project in terms of land use and environmental impact.
The Act aims to preserve agricultural land and prevent its conversion into non-agricultural uses. Reckitt Benckiser’s project involves converting farmland into forests, which goes against the purpose of the Act.
This conflict raises concerns about the loss of productive agricultural land and the potential weakening of farming communities.
Additionally, the environmental impact of the project is under scrutiny, with local authorities expressing worries about the alienation of productive land and contradicting claims made by Reckitt Benckiser.
The Act and its restrictions present challenges for the company’s reforestation efforts and may require alternative solutions to address the situation.
Possible Solutions to Prevent the Loss of Farmland
The Minister is exploring various alternatives for mitigating the loss of farmland and preventing the conversion of agricultural land into forests. Two possible solutions to address this issue are land use planning and promoting sustainable farming practices.
Land use planning involves carefully assessing and designating areas for different purposes, such as agriculture, forestry, and urban development. This approach ensures that valuable farmland is protected and not converted into forests. It requires the collaboration of government agencies, local authorities, and stakeholders to develop comprehensive land use plans that prioritize agricultural land preservation.
Promoting sustainable farming practices can also help prevent the loss of farmland. These practices focus on maximizing productivity while minimizing environmental impact. This includes techniques such as crop rotation, soil conservation, water management, and integrated pest management. By adopting sustainable farming practices, farmers can maintain the productivity of their land and reduce the need for clearing more forests for agricultural expansion.
|Possible Solutions to Prevent the Loss of Farmland|
|1. Land use planning|
|2. Sustainable farming practices|
Reckitt Benckiser’s global reforestation efforts, as part of its Environmental Sustainability Program, have raised concerns about the potential impact on farming communities. The company has purchased over 8,000 hectares of farmland in British Columbia and plans to keep the forest on the land for at least 100 years.
While Reckitt Benckiser aims to make its global operations carbon neutral, the conversion of farmland into forests could weaken farming communities by reducing available agricultural land. Local authorities, such as the Bulkley Valley Regional District, have expressed concerns about the alienation of productive land from production.
Despite the company’s claims that only marginal or abandoned land is being used, there are doubts raised by Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson. These concerns highlight the need to carefully consider the impact of reforestation efforts on farmland and explore alternative solutions to prevent the loss of agricultural land.