IKEA Bought 11,000 Acres in Georgia to Keep it Undeveloped

The company is conserving forests and habitats.

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IKEA pine forest in southeast Georgia.

(Courtesy Ingka Investments  / Stacy Funderburke)

A large parcel of forested land near Georgia’s Altamaha River was purchased by IKEA’s parent company Ingka Group with the promise that the land and the ecosystem will be protected and never developed. The company bought the land as part of its goals to be climate positive by 2030 according to Fast Company.

The 11,000-acre land parcel was purchased from The Conservation Fund, because it was at risk at being developed. The organization bought the land through its Working Forests Fund and put a permanent easement in place so that the land could never be broken up and sold and that the native forest will always be protected.

“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,”  Brian Dangler, vice president and director of the Working Forest Fund at the Conservation Fund told Fast Company. “And when you break up the function of large intact forests — tens of thousands of acres—it gets reduced very quickly. So, we try to keep them whole.”

The organization sells the land after the protections are put in place and in this case, the land was sold to the Ingka Group which already owns 136,000 acres of forests in Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Texas, and Oklahoma [as well as forest land in Europe] according to a press release from the company.

Under the agreement with the Conservation fund, the company will assume responsibility for the land and the conservation of the habitat of the gopher tortoise, a protected species, as well as allow the public access to the forest for recreation. This is vitally important since there are only 4 percent of longleaf forests left in the southeastern states according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

“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,” Krister Mattsson, managing director Ingka Investments said in the press release.

But there is some controversy since some of the trees will be harvested to use in IKEA products. A company spokesman told Fast Company that the amount is insignificant and the land will be sustainably managed by planting more trees than the amount harvested. Still, it seems that land that is slated to be conserved should be left pristine.

But the company has an answer for  the naysayers. “Our vision on forest management is to consider all the functions of a forest and plan for dozens of years ahead. We look at it as a commitment to balance the economic, environmental and social aspects related to the forest,” Mattsson told CNN.

Since the goal is to conserve forests and habitats, the company is becoming more sustainable, aiding in the fight to reduce climate change, and helping to save the planet. This purchase will also ensure that a piece of the native pine forest will survive.

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