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Ikea Accused of Logging Old-Growth Forests

A subsidiary of furniture retailer Ikea is logging old-growth forests and other high conservation value forests in western Russia, according to the Global Forestry Coalition.

GFC – an alliance of NGOs from more than 40 countries – alleges that Ikea’s wholly owned logging subsidiary Swedwood has been clear-cutting forests in high biodiversity value areas and logging very old trees in parts of the Russian Karelia region.

The furniture giant uses the “We Love Wood” slogan to highlight its claim to use only wood sourced in an environmentally and socially responsible way.

Swedwood is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. GFC has also criticized NEPCon, the company that ensures that the company’s facilities are FSC-compliant. GFC has called NEPCon allowing the logging of old-growth trees under the FSC banner “a scandal.”

Ikea says that the average age of the trees that its harvests in Karelia is 160 years. The company also says that what’s vital when looking at total forest management is not the age of the individual trees or presence of old stumps from earlier logging, but proper management that plans the logging in accordance with good conservation procedures and biodiversity.

In a response to GFC’s claims, Ikea said that some 17 percent of of Swedwood’s total leasehold in Karelia is exempt from cutting, either by legislative demand or voluntarily. Ikea says this is a far greater proportion of land than legally required. Furthermore, when the leasehold’s limits were determined in 2004, Ikea says it gave up areas of about nine percent of the total leasehold, following dialogue with Greenpeace, as the natural values of these areas were considered too high to conduct responsible forestry.

In December, Ikea announced plans to replace all 10 million of its wooden pallets with lighter, cheaper corrugated cardboard by the the start of 2012. The company said the move would cut transportation costs by 10 percent, or €140 million ($189 million) a year.

The company says the new pallets can support the same load as traditional timber pallets, but are just one-third the height, at two inches high. This means Ikea can fit more goods into each shipment. The cardboard pallets are also only 5.5 pounds, 90 percent lighter than their predecessor.

Earlier this week, Greenpeace accused KFC is using wood from rainforests to make its packaging. The fast-food chain is using paper from regular Greenpeace target Asia Pulp & Paper to make such things as chicken buckets, french fry cartons and drinks containers, the environmental organization said.

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2 thoughts on “Ikea Accused of Logging Old-Growth Forests

  1. Important issue does not seem to be well summarized toward a solution/action and I do not understand why KFC was brought in. We have much work to do to build a sustainable world; let’s be as organized and effective in our efforts as we can be. Thanks

  2. As the FSC certification service provider to Swedwood Karelia, we would like to explain more about NEPCon’s role and the FSC certification process. We welcome comments from stakeholders and we take them very seriously. That is why we conducted a follow-up field audit last year, based on formal complaints over Swedwood Karelia’s forest management regime including logging in old-growth forest. We are always willing to address and correct any possible error in our auditing work. However, our follow-up audit did not reveal any non-conformances with the applicable FSC Forest Management standards; as professional FSC auditors, we do not and may not make requirements beyond the scope of the FSC requirements.

    It is also important to understand that the Russian FSC Forest Management certification standard has been developed by key Russian stakeholders, following FSC’s procedures that require balanced influence by environmental, social, and economic interests.

    Please find our full statement here: http://www.nepcon.net/4934/English/Certification/FSC/Stakeholder_updates/Statement_about_the_FSC_certification_of_Swedwood_Karelia/

    A thorough response to two identical, formal complaints that we received from two Swedish NGOs last year covering the issues referred to by this article, is available here: http://www.nepcon.net/files/resource_1/documents/Certification/Stakeholder%20updates/Statement%20on%20Swedwood%20Karelia%20complaint_21DEC11.pdf

    Finally, you can find the public summary of the follow-up audit here: http://info.fsc.org/servlet/servlet.FileDownload?retURL=%2Fapex%2FPublicCertificateDetails%3Fid%3Da0240000005sRipAAE&file=00P40000008ivfoEAA.

    Kind regards,
    Anne-Sofie Forfang, Communications Manager, NEPCon

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