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Forest landscape in Romania. Photo: Bergadder (Pixabay, CCO Commons)

The Swedish furniture giant IKEA is active in Romania, a country which has huge problems with illegal logging. Ingka Investments, which is a company owned by IKEA, has been taken to Romanian court for purchasing illegal forest land, which is claimed to already belong to someone. The wood in Ikea’s furniture is FSC-certified but it still may come from forests with high conservation values.

Romania habours some of Europe’s last remaining old-growth forests and virgin-like forests with a rich biodiversity, outside of Scandinavia. Unfortunately, old-growth forests are illegally logged in an interaction between land-owners, local politicians and even the police in Romania. It is common with threats against both forest rangers and journalists. In total six forest rangers have been murdered during the last years, two of which were murdered during a month’s time.

Elin Götmark, spokesperson in Protect the Forest says:

“We ask ourselves if a global actor like IKEA thinks it is responsible to do business with countries where forest rangers are murdered and illegal logging is taking place in invaluable old-growth forests and in national parks?”

In 2014 IKEA purchased large areas of forest in Romania from Harvard University. The university had purchased the forest through corrupt companies which had taken it from the Romanian state, according to an investigation carried out by Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, OCCRP. IKEA has purchased a total of 50 000 hectares of forest in Romania and is therefore the largest private land owner in Romania.

The Swedish daily newspaper DN reports that the IKEA-company Ingka Investments has been taken to court for purchasing Romanian forest, which is said to belong to someone. In an interview at the site Natursidan Ulf Johansson, Global Wood Supply and Forestry Manager at Ikea Range & Supply, states that one of the challenges for IKEA is purchasing wood from many so-called high risk countries, which have problems with corruption and illegal logging.

IKEA’s goal is to purchase wood which is 100 per cent FSC-certified from these countries. At the same time there are many indications that forests with high conservation values are being logged by FSC-certified companies. FSC-certification is far from a guarantee for socially- and environmentally friendly forestry and FSC has received serious criticism from many environmental organizations, both in Sweden and internationally.  Several environmental organizations have left FSC in protest.