IKEA buys hurricane-damaged land in Florida to plant forests

IKEA Store — Courtesy: Shutterstock — Graeme Dawes

Ingka Group, owner of IKEA furniture stores worldwide, has bought more land in the U.S. as part of a long-term goal and commitment to handle forest management responsibly.

Ingka Group will plant seedlings of mainly longleaf pine on the 3,264 acres of land near Florida’s Apalachicola River that was damaged by Hurricane Michael. Michael’s heavy winds also impacted forests in Georgia, damaging approximately 3 million acres of forested land in Florida worth $1.2 billion dollars, according to the Florida Forest Service via the National Weather Service. The land is named Tupelo Honey, and Ingka has plans to treat the new purchase as an afforestation project.

“The new forests will support increased biodiversity, help ensure sustainable timber production from responsibly managed forests, and recover land damaged by Hurricane Michael in October 2018,” it said.

It is estimated that nearly 650,000 or more trees will be planted throughout Tupelo Honey over the next 40 years, as the forest will run on a 40-year cycle. Ingka plans to eventually trim down the planted trees to use as lumber, which will “ensure sustainable timber production.”

However, Ingka Group says that its forests “do not currently directly supply raw material for the IKEA product range.”

In recent years, Ingka Group has invested in forest land, and with the new addition, it now owns nearly 620,000 acres in the United States, Europe, and New Zealand.

“The Tupelo Honey acquisition is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the responsible forestry management approach Ingka Investments uses on all our properties: caring for the environment and the planet, meeting the needs of the local community through long-term, sustainable stewardship,” Krister Mattsson, Managing Director of Ingka Investments, said in a statement.

“The afforestation business… is a long-term investment that consolidates our business while also positively impacting the climate through the absorption of CO2 during the forests’ growth,” he continued.

The globe’s largest furniture retailer operates through a franchise system with Ingka Group, the main retailer. IKEA’s goal is to be climate positive by aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than what is emitted by the entire IKEA value chain, from production using raw materials to consumers’ furniture disposal by 2030.

IKEA currently doesn’t include initiatives to reduce emitted CO2 in its target due to issues accurately measuring such initiatives. It also does not use wood from its own forests in production.

Longleaf pine is resilient to the effects of climate change and has a slight resistance to forest fires. It also supports habitats for endangered plants and animals such as dusky gopher frogs, gopher tortoises, pine snakes, and red-cockaded woodpeckers.

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