I’m skeptical of most government policies. And I can be guilty sometimes of viewing compromises as deals that are bad for all involved. But I was pleasantly surprised with the balance and good judgement that has been shown in the new regulations governing tree planting on land in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) in British Columbia (BC).

Under the new regulations, property owners in the ALR will need to apply to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to plant trees on properties larger than 20 hectares, if those trees are not intended for an accepted ALC farm use such as food production or agroforestry.

These new regulations essentialy allow ‘business-as-usual’ for the appropriate use of trees on farms in BC. They also allow for food production in either conventional (e.g. orchards) or agroforestry settings. But they put the brakes on the recent carbon-credits driven mania. In a recent land rush, primarily foreign multinationals, have been buying and afforesting farms and ranches in the interior of BC. They do this seeking to offset their emissions in Europe and the United States. In essence, they want to preserve their unsustainable manufacturing emissions profiles, by ripping Canadian land out of agricultural production into carbon-credit reserves. This trend had serious implications for the long-term sustainability of BC agriculture and food security.

BC’s agricultural land base is far too small to remove large blocks of land to devote solely for carbon sequestration. Especially given that we can achieve improved food security and conservation without removing this land from production. With expanded use of agroforestry we can proverbially have our cake and eat it too. These new regulations are win for an integrated approach to land use.


Two comments on “New ALR Rules…”

Sharon 27 July 2016 at 12:25 pm

Such great news for those of us concerned about food security. But let’s hope we do not forget the other species who need food and once again disturb a balance. Consider the ancient hedgerows in Britain and how their removal caused disruption of wildlife and their corridors for movement. They used native species and augmented the food sources for all.

George Powell (responding to Sharon) 27 July 2016 at 12:50 pm

Thanks for your comment Sharon. And I agree, we need to do more to preserve hedgerows and wildlife habitat on farmland. Good stewardship practices on farmland is not at odds to producing food. Quite the opposite is true. The Environmental Farm Plan Program, among others, is actively engaged in helping agricultural producers in this regard. But large corporations using agricultural lands as conservation reserves to the exclusion of food production, just so that they can continue to pollute elsewhere, is wrong-headed on many levels.

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