Ikea Buys 11,000 Acres of Georgia Forest to Sustainably Manage
If you’ve ever been to an Ikea, the place where affordable furniture dreams come true, you might’ve seen some of the million solar panels the company bought in 2019 for 370 of its stores and warehouses. And that’s just the beginning of its commitment to becoming “climate positive” by 2030, which means decreasing more greenhouse gas emissions than the company’s value chain emits while expanding business. Ikea has also set the ambitious goal of reaching 100 percent circular products by 2030.
Another piece of the company’s climate positive plan is forestland conservation. Ikea recently announced that its parent company, Ingka Group, purchased nearly 11,000 acres of southeast Georgia forestland from The Conservation Fund. The Conservation Fund is a nonprofit that, since 1985, has worked in every state to protect more than 8 million acres of land.
“We buy threatened forests, which are owned by investors that have perhaps short term tenure, and often they get broken up in this area—it’s a high-growth area and it’s prone to break up into subdivisions and smaller and smaller pieces,” said Vice President and Director of the Working Forest Fund at the Conservation Fund during a Fast Company interview.
Ingka Group’s acquisition of the land, which is located close to the Altamaha River Basin, brings Ikea’s U.S. forestland ownership and management to nearly 136,000 acres across five states. The company began purchasing U.S. forests in 2018, first acquiring 25,000 acres in Alabama. Ingka Group then acquired 17,000 acres in South Carolina, 42,000 acres in East Texas, and 18,000 acres in southeastern Oklahoma in 2019.
And what does Ikea do with all of that land? It sustainably manages it and prevents forest fragmentation. And, in the case of the Georgia forestland, the company has also agreed to uphold The Conservation Fund’s conditions. In doing so, Ikea will protect the land “from fragmentation, restore the longleaf pine forest, and safeguard the habitat of the gopher tortoise (a priority species for conservation). Under these agreements, the public will continue to enjoy access to the lands normally forbidden by typical forestland owners.”
Managing Director of Ingka Investments Krister Mattsson noted in the company’s press release, “We are committed to managing our forests sustainably while at the same time meeting our business objectives.” “In all our properties, we pay special attention to ensuring environmental protection, so we are happy to see that our efforts in working with responsible forest management are being seen and trusted.”
Ingka Group has the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) audit its forest management in all of the countries the company operates in to ensure it achieves the highest social and environmental criteria.
A company spokesperson told Fast Company that “no significant amount” of wood from the forests is currently used in Ikea products; the primary focus of the investments is to ensure that the land is sustainably managed. The annual growth of the trees is larger than the amount of timber that is harvested.”
Between September 2019 and August 2020, the company planted 600,000 seedlings in the U.S., afforesting 1,186 acres, according to the release. Ingka Groups’ additional environmental initiatives include transitioning 100 percent of its lighting to energy-efficient LED, using only-sustainable cotton, and encouraging its nearly 1000 direct home furnishing suppliers to reduce their factory footprints.
“We are honored to work with Ingka Group and applaud its dedication to preserve and enhance forest quality in the U.S. and Europe,” said President and CEO of The Conservation Fund Larry Selzerin in the release.