Opposition grows to BC government’s plan to weaken farmland protection
The chorus of opposition to the B.C. government’s planned rewrite of the agricultural land reserve is growing.
A letter with more than 100 signatures, mostly from academics, biologists and naturalists, has been sent to Premier Christy Clark critical of Bill 24, which was introduced in the legislature on Mar. 27.
The letter contends that the bill “reduces the ability for science to inform land use decisions…will increase pressure to remove land from the reserve at a cost to the general good” and overlooks the importance of farmland as habitat for wildlife and endangered species.
Agricultural lands produce not just crops but contain wetlands, streams, ponds, riparian areas, woodlands, hedgerows, and uncultivated grasslands that are either adjacent to or integral to farm operations. “These areas are instrumental in protecting functioning healthy ecosystems and in many cases, these diverse services help boost agricultural production.”
The list of threatened or endangered species that find habitat on farmland include the burrowing owl, American badger, yellow-breasted chat, sage thrasher, Nooksack dace, and west slope cutthroat trout. Other species such as swallows and common nighthawks actually benefit agriculture.
Species prized for hunting such as deer and elk also use “so called marginal agricultural lands,” the letter notes.
“Allowing more nonagricultural uses on ALR land and the release of more lands from reserves will have the unintended consequence of threatening many important ecosystems and, by extension, many valuable species including species-at-risk.”
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