Complicit in destruction: new investigation reveals IKEA’s role in the decimation of Romania’s forests

IKEA claims to be people and planet positive, yet it is complicit in the degradation and destruction of Romania's forests. A new report by Agent Green and Bruno Manser Fonds documents this destruction and presents clear requests to the furniture giant.

(BASEL/SWITZERLAND) A new investigative report by Agent Green and Bruno Manser Fonds shows a consistent pattern of destructive logging in IKEA-linked forests in Romania, with massive consequences for nature and climate. The findings are based on an analysis of official documents and field investigations of nine forest areas in Romania. Seven of them are owned by the IKEA-related company Ingka Investments and two are public forests supplying factories that produce for IKEA. The analysis uncovers over 50 suspected law violations and bad forest management practices. Biodiversity rich forest areas cut to the ground, intensive commercial logging conducted in ecologically sensitive or even old-growth forests without environmental assessments, dozens of meters deep tractor roads cutting through the forest are just a few of the issues documented.


Most of the visited forests are fully or partially overlapping with EU protected areas. 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 property in Romania are under a strict protection regime and 8.25% under partial protection. This is totally insufficient to meet EU goals. The EU biodiversity strategy requires 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.


At the press conference in Bucharest Gabriel Păun, President of Agent Green, stated: “IKEA/Ingka seem to manage their forests like agricultural crops. Letting trees grow old is not in their culture. Removing entire forests in a short period of time is a matter of urgency for IKEA, the tree hunter. The entity disregards both the written laws and the unwritten ways of nature. IKEA does not practice what they preach regardless of whether it is the European Union nature directives, Romanian national legislation, or the FSC forest certification standard. But as a company with revenues of billions of Euros and Romania’s largest private forest owner, IKEA / Ingka should be an example of best practice.”


Ines Gavrilut, Eastern Europe Campaigner at the Bruno Manser Fonds, added: “It is high time that IKEA started to apply its declared sustainability goals. IKEA could do so much good if it really wanted to set a good example as a forest owner, administrator, and large wood consumer in Romania and beyond. Needs could also be covered without resorting to destructive logging, without converting natural forests into plantations – but this requires tackling difficult issues such as the core of IKEA's business model of "fast furniture". Wood products should not be for fast consumption but should be made to last for decades.”


Agent Green and Bruno Manser Fonds urge IKEA and the Ingka Group to get a grip on their forest operations in Romania to better control logging companies, not to source wood from national or natural parks, to effectively increase protection and apply forestry close to nature in own forests, to ensure full traceability and transparency of the IKEA supply chain, and allow independent forest oversight by civil society and investigative journalists.


In August 2021, Agent Green published its first report documenting destruction in IKEA-linked forests in Romania. In May 2023, Agent Green and Bruno Manser Fonds sent an open letter of concern to the Ingka Group and IKEA Switzerland. BMF also started a petition demanding IKEA to stop deforestation in Romania's protected forest areas and other high conservation value forests.


The ARTE documentary IKEA, the tree hunter brilliantly tells the story of the real cost of IKEA furniture, the uncontrolled exploitation of wood and human labour.

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