Stop IKEA's logging of old-growth forests in Russia

Ikea is making old-growth forest a home

Furniture giant IKEA is clear-cutting Russian woods – including many old-growth forests. Centuries-old trees are felled and the sensitive soils are destroyed by the heavy harvester vehicles. This is clearly not the "responsible forestry" that IKEA promises its customers.

For only 89 £ the wooden table JOKKMOKK is on offer at IKEA's, along with four matching chairs. „Solid pine; a natural material that ages beautifully“, the description reads. The corporation sells 100 million pieces of furniture per year via its stores all over the world. The demand for wood mounts up to a whopping 12 million cubic metres. But nature is paying the price.

Low prices at great costs

A high amount of the wood used for IKEA furniture originates from the high north of Russia, as the very fine annual rings reveal. In the chilly climate near the polar circle trees grow very slowly. 300 000 hectares of forest land have been rented by IKEA wholly-owned subsidiary Swedwood in Karelia. Since then the forest is feeling the heat, even previously pristine areas.

In Karelia, harvesters overturn the centuries-old trees within seconds. 800 trees per day are logged, debranched and stacked for transport to the furniture factory. The six foot high tyres plough through the soft marshy ground. It will take decades to recover. Day-to-day IKEA is logging more species-rich primeval forest. Barren and dreary clear-cut stretches are taking over.

Deforesting with the green label FSC

IKEA considers the clearance of the boreal forests to be verifiably responsible. The corporate group points to the label of the German company FSC International Center GmbH. However, environmentalists have long been criticizing the deceit taking place with the FSC label.

More information

Please support the protests of Protect the Forest and Spok Karelia. Ask Ikea to end the clear-cut of natural forests immediately by signing on the right.

Clearcut with ecolabel FSC
Ikea claims that cutting old growth boreal forests is "demonstrably responsible". The company points to the label of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The clear-cut in Karelia is certified with the green label of the company FSC International Center GmbH in Bonn, Germany. „We leave 16 – 17 percent of high conservation value forests standing“, IKEA spokeswoman Josefin Thorell tells conservationists. "We've come a long way, but we're still just warming up”, says Steve Howard Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA Group.

German public television ARD "Ikea furniture: wood from virgin forests" shows a very different picture. Ecologists have long been criticizing the deceit by means of the FSC label. The standards are not met in practice, hundreds of questionable certificates are the result, as documented by FSC-Watch for years. In Scandinavia and in the tropics old growth forests are also being plundered by the timber industry with the blessing of the label.

And not only wood is a big problem at Ikea: The company consumes 40,000 tons of palm oil per year, mainly for candles, but also other products such as pastries. For oil palm cultivation the industry cuts the tropical rain forests. But again, Ikea justifies this with another greenwashing label, called the "Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)."

Film report "IKEA criticised over Russia logging practices"

More information on Mongabay

Ikea’s logging of Karelian forests will soon be a thing of the past

Feb 18, 2014

Ikea halts deforestation in Karelia

Ikea's wholly-owned subsidiary Swedwood reports that it has ceased its logging operations in the last remaining old-growth forests of the northern Russian region of Karelia. Swedwood had been clear-cutting century-old trees in the boreal forests with heavy machinery for many years.

According to a recent Swedwood press release, the Ikea subsidiary will be focusing on wood production in Tikhvin and is shutting down its operations in Karelia. The company states that business reasons were behind this decision.

“It is good that the chainsaws and forestry tractors are coming to a halt in Karelia,” explains Klaus Schenck, forest and energy consultant for Rainforest Rescue: “The primeval forests deserve complete protection and must never be sold to another timber company. Elsewhere, Ikea is obligated to harvest its wood in an environmentally friendly and socially acceptable manner."

Linda Nordström Ellegaard of Protect the Forest says: “Together with Russian environmental organizations, we suggested to Ikea that they, as an influential multinational corporation, should set a good example by announcing that they will no longer log or buy timber from intact old-growth forests, whether the forests are certified or not.”

Rainforest Rescue and other environmentalists have long criticized Swedwood's industrial clear-cutting in Sweden and Russia. The company uses heavy machinery to harvest vast intact forest areas with centuries-old trees and extraordinary biodiversity, transforming the land into uniform commercial forests. Ikea's profit from the timber is bought with massive damage to forest ecosystems and soils.

In the past, Ikea had justified the deforestation in Karelia with the certification of the old-growth forests by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Rainforest Rescue's criticism of the certified deforestation was dismissed by the FSC in an open letter stating that “FSC is not an eco-label”. However, by the end of January 2014, Swedwood Karelia’s certificate had been revoked.

Rainforest Rescue had launched its protest campaign to stop IKEA's logging of old-growth forests in Russia in the summer of 2012. In December 2012, the Swedish environmental protection organizations Protect the Forest and Friends of the Earth Sweden submitted a petition to Ikea that had been signed by more than 180,000 people from around the world – 65,000 signatures had been collected by Rainforest Rescue alone.

Dec 10, 2012

Worldwide protest against the destruction of primeval forests by IKEA

180,000 people demand: stop the clearing of old-growth forests – Press release jointly issued by Rainforest Rescue and Protect the Forest, 10 December 2012

Press release jointly issued by Rainforest Rescue and Protect the Forest, 10 December 2012

180,000 people demand: stop the clearing of old-growth forests

The destruction of unspoiled ancient forests in the Russian part of Karelia for the production of IKEA furniture has caused outrage and protests worldwide. International media and NGOs have reported on the issue this year. On December 7, the NGO Protect the Forest presented IKEA with a petition bearing 180,000 signatures. The signatories demand that the Swedish furniture chain keep the sustainability promises it makes to consumers and call for an immediate halt to the destruction of ecologically valuable primary forests.

“People from Sweden, Canada, Germany, Spain, France and Belgium have signed our petition,” says Viktor Säfve, head of Protect the Forest. “Last Friday we met with representatives of IKEA and its Swedwood subsidiary to voice our demands and hand over the petition.” 65,000 signatures had been collected by the German organization Rainforest Rescue alone.

Representatives of Protect the Forest’s partner organizations such as Friends of the Earth Sweden, the Russian environmental organization SPOK from Karelia and Greenpeace Sweden also attended the meeting with IKEA, as did representatives of the WWF Sweden. “IKEA claims that Protect the Forest’s criticism is exaggerated and not backed by Russian environmental groups,” Alexander Markovsky of the Karelia Regional Nature Conservancy (SPOK) explains. “We used the meeting to show that Russian organizations support the demands. IKEA should not have leased ancient forests with high conservation value in the first place.”

SPOK, Greenpeace Russia and Protect the Forest summarized their concerns in a joint statement, which they presented to IKEA during the meeting.

IKEA claims that logging ancient boreal forests is both sustainable and responsible, referring to its Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. However, environmentalists have long equated the FSC label for industrial timber foresting with the certified destruction of primeval forests. Confronted with specific criticism in the IKEA case, the head of the FSC himself made clear that the FSC label does not represent an environmental certification (German). “This goes to show that IKEA is trying to hide behind a smokescreen of greenwashing. So far, the company has not been able to guarantee that old-growth pines do not end up as cheap IKEA furniture,” says Klaus Schenck of Rainforest Rescue.

Viktor Säfve, chairman of Protect the Forest, +46 76 11 488 11
Alexander Markovsky, chairman of SPOK, +79 602 15 11 22
Klaus Schenck, Rainforest Rescue's forest and energy consultant, +34 981 76 40 80,

In 2010 and 2011, Protect the Forest travelled to Russian Karelia to document logging by IKEA/Swedwood. In April 2012, IKEA’s destruction of Karelia’s primary forests was reported in Uppdrag granskning, a Swedish TV program. Protect the Forest then started its campaign to stop IKEA’s destructive activities in Karelian forests.

See for the joint statement by the environmental groups and the petition, which has been signed by 180,000 people. The petition is addressed to the management of IKEA’s Swedwood subsidiary that is doing the logging in the ancient Karelian forests.