Worldwide protest against the destruction of primeval forests by IKEA

Ikea is making old-growth forest a home

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.