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.
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.
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)."
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.
IKEA UK & Ireland
Mr. Martin Hansson, Country Manager
Customer Service Centre
PO Box 96, Rotherham S63 7WY
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.
End of campaign:
May 20, 2014
Stop IKEA's logging of old-growth forests in Russia