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.

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

Saanich has awarded the tender for a youth bike skills park planned for the lot next to the George Tripp BC Hydro Substation off Lochside Drive to Bike Track Ltd. for $242,000. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich selects company to build youth bike skills track at Tripp Station Park

More than $240,000 allotted for Bike Track Ltd. to design bike park

The purchase of 27 acres in the Millstream Creek watershed by The Land Conservancy and other partners will protect a sensitive ecosystem in the Highlands. (Photo contributed by The Land Conservancy)
Provincial land conservancy lays out $600,000 for Highlands property

Anonymous donor helps buy purchased 11.1 hectares of Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystem

Colin Springford doing what he loved best, tending to his garden. (Linda Matteson photo)
Longtime farmer Colin Springford dies at age 75

‘He will be deeply missed, always loved and never forgotten’

An architectural rendering provides a look at PC Urban’s proposal for three buildings on the former Galaxy Motors property at 1764 Island Hwy. in Colwood. (Rendering courtesy of PC Urban)
Commercial/industrial development planned for former Galaxy Motors site

Colwood proposal goes to public hearing Jan. 25

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

The RCMP are reminding drivers to find alternative ways home if they have consumed anything that impairs their ability to drive. (Black Press file photo)
Impaired Island driver flees road check twice on the same night

The officer issued the driver numerous violation tickets, and a four-month driving suspension

Inspection of bridge crossing on a B.C. forest service road. (B.C. Forest Practices Board)
B.C. falling behind in maintenance of forest service roads

Auditor finds nearly half of bridges overdue for repair

(Black Press Media files)
Woman steals bottles of wine after brandishing stun baton in New Westminster

Police say the female suspect was wearing a beige trench coat with fur lining

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canadian malls, conference centres, hotels offer up space for COVID vaccination centres

Commercial real estate association REALPAC said that a similar initiative was seeing success in the U.K.

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden are sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)
Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington

The objectives of the Vancouver Island Down Syndrome Society include peer support for parents and caregivers, as well as developing support services, projects, educational and employment opportunities for people with Down Syndrome. Photo supplied.
Vancouver Island Down Syndrome Society offers support for families in the community

New non-profit seeking directors in cities across Vancouver Island

A memorial for the fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 near Tisdale, Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards
‘End of the road:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash awaits deportation decision

Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Vancouver Island paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Most Read