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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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