Furniture giant Ikea is in hot water amid a controversy surrounding its wood resources. For years the company has used the slogan “We Love Wood” to promote its dedication to using only socially and economically sustainable products, but recent reports suggest otherwise.
According to several environmental organizations, the company has been involved in logging and clear-cutting old-growth forests in northern parts of Russian Karelia, allegedly cutting down nearly 1,400 acres of forest per year. This type of logging destroys ancient and unique forests with exceptionally high conservation values.
According to Olga Ilina, head of the forest department of the NGO SPOK, there is a very limited amount of old-growth forest in the Russian Karelia that has high conservation value. Ikea claims it does not operate in these parts but as it turns out, it does.
According to Protect the Forest, Sweden, Ikea has clear-cut areas of old-growth forest containing trees as old as 600 years old, causing severe ramifications on forest ecosystems. These areas of virgin forest, along with tropical rainforests along the equator, provide vital functions for ecosystems, absorbing a great deal of carbon dioxide and housing hundreds of thousands of animals and plant species.
Strangely enough, Swedwood, the wholly owned subsidiary of Ikea involved, is also certified by Forestry Stewardship Council, which ensures responsibly managed forests are used for wood production. The organization has strict rules regarding the protection of ancient forests, but of course, there are holes, as the general manager claims “no company would register” if they were capable of protecting every single tree on the planet.
Ikea forest manager Anders Hildeman has stood by the company’s claims that Ikea has high conservation values and “will continue to work according to the principles that we agreed on together with Russian environmental organizations like SPOK.”
Now that this is out, you’d hope that a company as openly in-tune with environmental sustainability would take this episode into account, as any further mishaps could cause harm to the company’s substantial sustainability cred. Will this one situation affect whether or not you purchase from Ikea?