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IKEA is harming Romania's forests

The investigative report "IKEA. Smart Outside, Rotten Inside" documents the conduct of IKEA as a major wood consumer and the IKEA-affiliated Ingka Investments as Romania's largest private forest owner with over 51,000 ha of forest. The investigation reveals a consistent pattern of destructive logging and poor management in the forests owned by Ingka and those feeding the IKEA supply chain in Romania. Many of these forests are located within or near protected areas, mainly Natura 2000 sites.

From the nine analysed forest areas, seven are owned by Ingka Investments and two are public forests supplying factories that produce for IKEA. In the Ingka-owned forests alone, we have detected over 50 suspected law violations and poor forest management practices. These include large-scale clearcuts in high biodiversity forests, intensive commercial logging conducted in ecologically sensitive or even old-growth forests without environmental assessments, the lack of natural forest regeneration after logging, severe soil erosion - with massive consequences for nature and climate.

Some of these forests were strictly protected or under low-intensity logging before Ingka took over. Now they are all managed to maximize wood extraction, with no regard to forest habitats and their vital role for species.

Only 1.04% of the total Ingka Investments property in Romania is under a strict protection regime and 8.25% is under partial protection. This is certainly not in line with the EU commitments to deal with the climate and biodiversity crises. The EU biodiversity strategy calls for the protection of a minimum of 30% of EU land area, from which 10% need to be strictly protected. One key goal is to strictly protect all remaining primary and old-growth forests in the EU.

Report: IKEA. Smart Outside, Rotten Inside

Report Annexes 2 and 3

Video (RO): Investigators at work

April 2022 – we are in the Penteleu nature reserve in the Romanian Carpathians, a few hours' drive from the city of Brașov. In 2007, Penteleu was declared a nature protection area of European importance and has since been part of the Natura 2000 ecological network. There are still brown bears, wolves and otters here. But despite its ecological and cultural value, the Penteleu forest is threatened with destruction. In the middle of the Natura 2000 site, IKEA owns a forest of over 1,500 hectares.

As soon as one enters the “IKEA forest”, large beech and spruce trunks lie along the roadside. The traces of devastation bear witness to the "progressive logging" currently practised. As a result, centuries-old forests can be replaced by young tree stands in a relatively short time – if regeneration takes place at all. All this is happening at the expense of the biodiversity, climate and cultural values of this natural heritage.

The nearby stream is completely filthy and only carries muddy water. The logging road, which has been dug two metres deep into the nearby slope without regard for the terrain, is also covered in knee-deep mud. Here, soil erosion is striking and actively promoted. Further up, we come across the stumps of mighty old spruces. On the trunks of still standing trees, there are strong drag marks. There is no question of low impact logging.

All this is happening in a national context where systematic timber overexploitation, illegal logging and corruption are widespread. Further information on this context can be found in the June issue of Tong Tana, the newsletter of the Bruno Manser Fonds (available in French and German).

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