Press release from Protect the Forest and Friends of the Earth Sweden 13 feb 2014:
Swedwood Karelia, a subsidiary of the furniture company Ikea, recently got their FSC-certificate suspended in Karelia due to violations of the environmental and social regulations. On February 11th Swedwood announced that they will close down their factory in 2014 and leave the region. According to Ikea, these issues are not connected.
For several years environmental organizations have voiced their concern about Ikeas logging of old-growth forests in Karelia. Ikea has earlier tried to dismiss the criticism by dodging behind their Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. The certificate has now been suspended due to e.g. logging of key biotopes, insufficient dialogue, lack of environmental consideration, and work environment issues.
”But unfortunately, the audit report does not address clearly enough our main concern over the FSC-certified logging of intact tracts of natural forests. The report raises several deficiencies, but does not describe the main problem, which is that pioneer exploitation, with fragmenting and breaking into the last intact forest landscapes and tracts, does not fit to FSC:s principles and criteria. Thus we believe that the FSC label is still far from being a guarantee for sustainable forestry”, says Linda Ellegaard Nordström from Protect the Forest, Sweden.
Only days after the FSC spread the news of Ikea’s suspended certificate, Ikea announced that they will shut down their operations in Karelia during 2014.
”Ikea’s departure from this part of Karelia, with its high concentration of old natural forest, clearly shows that it is not ecologically, socially, or economically sustainable to harvest old-growth forest, which are a non-renewable resource,” says Klas Ancker of Friends of the Earth Sweden. “Such harvesting is comparable to mining. This should influence other companies not to go to intact forests, but instead focus their production to areas of secondary-growth forest which has already been harvested in the past.”
The environmental organizations would like to see a development of more nature-based tourism in the beautiful landscapes in this part of Karelia. Together with sustainable forestry in secondary-growth forests, this could create new long-term jobs in Karelia.
”Ikea has said in the Russian media that the move is not because of the criticism from the environmental movement, but because of crass economic planning,” says Viktor Säfve from Protect the Forest Sweden. “We would have liked to see Ikea take responsibility and leave the old natural forests alone, and move their production to secondary-growth forests in Karelia, in consultation with the government of Karelia and other concerned stakeholders.”
“Together with Russian environmental organizations we have suggested to Ikea that they, as an influential multinational corporation, should set a good example by announcing that they will no longer log or buy timber from intact old-growth forests, whether the forests are certified or not,” says Linda Ellegaard Nordström.
More than a year ago the environmental organizations handed over 180 000 signatures and a joint statement with demands and suggestions for how Ikea should transform their forestry and preserve valuable old-growth forests. The organizations also say that Ikea should work toward a better and clearer conservation policy in the Republic of Karelia by publicly supporting the conservation plan presented by forest experts within the Russian environmental movement as “the Master Plan of Karelia.”
”Since Ikea now intends to leave Karelia, our opinion is that they have a great responsibility to make sure that whoever possibly buys their factory has a genuine environmental commitment and does not accept timber from intact forests,” says Klas Ancker, Friends of the Earth Sweden. “Ikea owes this to Karelia.”
Viktor Säfve, Protect the Forest, Sweden +46(0)76-1148811 firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Ellegaard Nordström, Protect the Forest, Sweden +46 (0)70–2541148 email@example.com
Joint statement to Ikea: http://www.skyddaskogen.se/images/joint%20statement_ikea.pdf