The roar of a chainsaw shatters the peaceful calm of the Karelia forest in Northwestern Russia. A logger carves into an exquisite giant -- a 600-year-old tree -- with expert precision. Within minutes, he has masterfully sliced through tree rings, added the felled tree to a growing pile, and moved on to the next.
These trees -- part of Russia's last remaining old-growth forests -- will be chopped up to make cutting boards, wooden spoons and other items for IKEA. IKEA has built a reputation around sustainability and tells its customers, literally, "We Love Wood", and that the furniture they buy will not contain wood from old-growth forests. But a new report shows that IKEA is clear-cutting Russia's remaining ancient forests and destroying hundreds of thousands of unique animal species for profit. If it doesn't stop now, there may be no trees left.
IKEA is the third-largest purchaser of wood in the world, behind Home Depot and Lowe's, and roughly 60 percent of the products stocked in IKEA's 300 department stores across the globe contain wood of some form. IKEA already decimates 1,400 acres of forest a year -- that's why it purchased this enormous swath of over 740,000 acres of Russia's Karelia lush boreal forests -- for expansion.
IKEA is trying to convince customers that it adheres to the strictest environmental standards, and only uses wood sourced in economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable ways. But a Swedish conservation group discovered that IKEA's wholly-owned subsidiary, Swedwood, is clear-cutting the last of Karelia's old-growth forests from areas of high conservation and devastating invaluable forest ecosystems in the process. This directly violates the minimum requirements IKEA has set for its timber.
IKEA truly cares about its sustainable image and internationally-known brand and is especially vulnerable to public pressure from SumOfUs.org members. That's why it is important we send a strong message now.
As a world leader in the furniture industry and one of the world's largest companies, with over $30 billion in profits between 2000 and 2008, IKEA has the means to make its forestry practices more ecologically friendly and needs to stop misleading its customers.
Thanks for loving trees,
Emma, Taren, Kaytee and the rest of us
Why are old-growth forests so important?
Russia's lush, old-growth forests perform vital functions for life on Earth. They help to stabilize the climate by locking carbon in the soil -- which helps safeguard our climate. In addition, old-growth forests have much greater biodiversity than managed plantations, and are home to literally hundreds of thousands of unique animal and plant species, like rare species of lichens, mosses and other plants and animals. These species cannot survive in secondary forests.
But because of logging, only 10% of Russia's old-growth forests remain.
NGOs claim that IKEA, through Swedwood, is helping to destroy ecosystems that are home to endangered species by clear-cutting already depleted old-growth forests. In Karelia, only isolated tracts and pockets of old-growth forests remain.
In Russia, Swedwood Karelia LLC owns a logging concession of over 740,000 acres. And with Russian markets increasingly opening to the global market, and World Trade Organization (WTO) membership likely, environmentalists fear the worst damage to Russia's forests is yet to come.
IKEA under fire for ancient tree logging, The Guardian. May 29, 2012.