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

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.

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

Ikea is making old-growth forest a home

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 is making old-growth forest a home

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.

Contact:
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, klaus@regenwald.org

Background:
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 www.protecttheforest.se 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.

IKEA UK & Ireland
Mr. Martin Hansson, Country Manager
Customer Service Centre
PO Box 96, Rotherham S63 7WY
martin.hansson@ikea.com

Dear Mr. Hansson,

IKEA continously advertises its "sustainablility" and "responsible forestry industry". But the practical experience in Russia shows a different picture. In Karelia, the IKEA subsidiary Swedwood is logging forests on a 300.000 hektar concession to cover the furniture company's demands for wood. Furthermore, Swedwood is buying large quantities of wood from other companies in Karelia. The natural forests are being destroyed by huge harvesters, even previously untouched natural forest areas. All that remains are giant clear-cuts. The biodiversity is crushed, the soils are destroyed by the tyres of the haulers weighing tons.

According to a survey by Russian conservation experts, only ten percent of the boreal old-growth forests remain today. The Swedish environmental organization Protect the Forests and also the German television channel ARD have been reporting this extensively since November 2011.

The global climate is at risk. The forests near the polar circles store an important amount of carbon dioxide and the logging is causing massive emission of greenhouse gases. By no means can this be called „responsible forestry“, as IKEA would like its customers to think.

We do not recognize the label of the company FSC International Center GmbH. It is an obvious case of false labelling. The logging of forests with high conservation value does not deserve a green label of any kind. For years environmental organisations have been criticizing FSC for its slack standards, hundreds of dubious certifications as well as cases of fraud (www.fsc-watch.org).

Please end the clear-cut of old growth forests immediately. Russia's remaining primeval forests have to be preserved instead of ending up as raw material for IKEAs cheap products.

Yours faithfully

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