If we want a greener, more harmonious Earth, we have to do our part to save the trees. Recently, Swedish company Ikea decided to buy 11,000 acres of forest in southeast Georgia to protect the planet. Ikea’s investment group, The Ingka Group, purchased the land to safeguard it from development and protect the plants and animals. Hundreds of different species call the forest their home.
The IKEA subsidiary owns and operates the majority of the retail chain’s stores. They have committed to help protect the environment as much as possible. The Ingka Group recently acquired land in Georgia near the Altamaha River Basin from The Conservation Fund. The nonprofit conservation organization protects over 8 million acres of land in the US.
“We are honored to work with Ingka Group and applaud its dedication to preserve and enhance forest quality in the U.S. and Europe. Well-managed forests provide essential benefits, including clean water and important wildlife habitat, as well as mitigating climate change,” said Larry Selzer, President, and CEO of The Conservation Fund.
About the non-profit
The nonprofit sold the land to Ingka Group because of its history in managing forestlands responsibly. 350 plant and wildlife species call the southeast Georgia forest their home. This includes the endangered longleaf pine, which can live for over 300 years, and the gopher tortoise. Unfortunately, most of the longleaf pines disappeared by the 1920s, and today, coverage has fallen to less than 3 percent.
As for the gopher tortoise, the main threats to its population include habitat destruction, fragmentation, and degradation. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, urbanization and development have been significant contributors to population decline. This makes IKEA’s move to protect the valuable land in Georgia even more crucial. Since IKEA decided to save the trees in this area, the wildlife won’t have to worry about their home being destroyed.
IKEA has even bigger plans than to save the trees
IKEA recently announced that it planned to become carbon neutral by 2030. The company released a detailed plan on how it will commit to being more eco-friendly. Future objectives include eliminating all single-use plastics from its restaurants, bistros, and cafes. Besides, IKEA wants to only use sustainable, renewable materials in its home furnishing range by 2030. They’ve already made huge strides toward this goal; in January 2020, they stopped using single-use plastics in home furnishings.
According to their website, here are some other eco-friendly commitments they’ve made:
- Today, more than 60% of the IKEA product range is based on renewable materials.
- By 2030, we aim to end our dependency on virgin fossil materials.
- We recycled more than 73% of the waste in all our* stores in 2018
Regarding forest management, Ingka Investments now owns 136,000 acres across the U.S. States where it acquired land include Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Texas, and Oklahoma, according to manager director Krister Mattsson.
“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,” he said.
The Conservation Fund gave the Ingka Group legally binding conditions to which it must adhere to. These include protecting the land from fragmentation, repurposing the longleaf pine forest, and ensuring the gopher tortoise’s safety. Since the tortoise is endangered, it’s crucial to protect them in the Georgian forests. Also, under these agreements, the public can still have access to the forestland.
Ingka Group’s proven history of helping to save the trees
Ingka Group currently maintains and owns around 248,000 hectares (approx. 613,000 acres) of forests in the U.S. and Europe. Countries in Europe where they have acquired land include Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Romania. To ensure the IKEA subsidiary adheres to environmental and social guidelines, the Forest Stewardship Council audits their forest management. In every country where the group owns the land, the management units have obtained the FSC certificate for responsible forest upkeep.
Between September 2019 and August 2020, Ingka Group planted 600,000 seedlings on 480 hectares (1,186 acres) in the U.S. Around the world. The company planted almost seven million seedlings.
“The transfer of these lands to Ingka Investments completes our Working Forest Fund® process, through which we identify and buy important, at-risk private forests; develop sustainable harvest and restoration plans; secure permanent conservation protections to block fragmentation and development, and then resell the permanently conserved forest to a private or public buyer,” ~Larry Selzer
In addition to their commitment to saving the trees, the furniture outlet giant announced other eco-friendly business plans. They have begun buying used IKEA furniture from customers to resell and also employed electric vans for transporting items. The company offered vouchers up to 50% of the original selling price. It launched this idea last Black Friday to encourage customers to cut down on consumption.
“By making sustainable living more simple and accessible, Ikea hopes that the initiative will help its customers take a stand against excessive consumption this Black Friday and in the years to come,” a spokesperson said.
IKEA is paving the way for a cleaner world with its pledge to save the trees and adopt more eco-friendly practices. Hopefully, other companies will follow suit in the future.
In addition to buying land in four other U.S states and four European countries, IKEA now owns land in Georgia. The company pledged to protect as much forestland as possible to help save the trees. So far, it owns and manages around 613,000 acres worldwide and has planted 7 million seedlings. IKEA hopes that their commitment to protecting forests along with the vision of becoming carbon-neutral by 2030 will inspire others.
If every company worldwide operated in an eco-friendly manner, we would have a much cleaner, greener Earth. Here’s to hoping that IKEA will create a domino effect and motivate other companies to change their practices.