A forest in Georgia covering nearly 11,000 acres was on the verge of being sold and developed when an unlikely savior appeared: Ikea, the Swedish furniture giant.
At the moment, Ikea is on a mission to become “climate positive” by 2030. Climate positive means Ikea wants to reduce more emissions than it emits through its value chain, and it’s doing that through sustainable initiatives such as investing in renewable energy, shifting to electric delivery vehicles, and implementing new business models such as taking back old furniture and repairing it for resale.
To further its commitment to the planet, Ikea acquired the forest in Georgia from a nonprofit called the Conservation Fund, which buys up forests that have been designated for harvesting wood. When the group buys a so-called “working forest,” it puts in place permanent easements that mean the land can never be broken up in a future sale and the native forest will be protected and restored as habitat for local species.
“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,” says Brian Dangler, vice president, and director of the Working Forest Fund at the Conservation Fund. “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 forest that Ikea just bought from the Conservation Fund can be visited by hikers and is located near Georgia’s Altamaha River Basin, which is home to the gopher tortoise.
The forest is just one of a number of forests that Ikea’s parent company, Ingka Group, has purchased in America. The company now owns around 136,000 acres of forest in five states, with the primary focus being on sustainably managing these forests for years to come.