The B.C. government is providing clarity to businesses and individuals considering planting trees for things like carbon sequestration on land in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) – they will need to apply for permission from the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) first.
A change in regulation under the ALC Act requires land owners in the ALR to make an application to the commission to plant trees on properties larger than 20 hectares, if those trees are not for an accepted ALC farm use such as food production or agroforestry.
The change followed discussions with stakeholders including the Agricultural Land Commission, BC Cattlemen's Association and the BC Agriculture Council. The 20 hectare threshold was determined as a result of those discussions, recognizing 20 hectares is large enough for most agricultural purposes, and carbon sequestration projects would require a larger land area than that to be feasible.
The legislative clarity follows 2015 discussions between the Ministry of Agriculture and a private company that had been planting coniferous trees on land in the ALR under a program to sequester carbon and promote the company’s carbon neutrality. The company is reviewing their program to ensure that it is meeting its objectives, and is supported by local communities and stakeholders and has decided not to make any new offers to purchase land, or plant trees for the purpose of carbon sequestration on their existing land while they are conducting their review.
The Agricultural Land Commission is an independent administrative tribunal dedicated to preserving agricultural land and encouraging farming in British Columbia. There are approximately 4.7 million hectares of land in the ALR. The land in the ALR has increased by 31,000 hectares since 2001.
Cariboo North MLA, Coralee Oakes –
“This change brings clarity and certainty to farmers and ranchers and our communities about growing trees on land in the ALR. The change supports food production, timber harvesting, agroforestry and silviculture and makes clear that land in the ALR is better used for those purposes.”
MNM Ranch owner, Martin Rossman –
“The 4.7 million hectares of land described as ALR is about 5% of B.C.’s total land area. It is crucial that we take steps to preserve this valuable resource for its intended purpose of production of food. I commend MLA Oakes and the provincial government for facilitating these changes.”