Apple, Ikea Purchase Large Forests

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iForest
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Last Month, Ikea purchased almost 83,000 acres of forested land.  In April, Apple picked up 36,000 acres of its own.  Why are these huge corporations buying their own huge forests?  To better manage the land.

2014 saw several huge retail and tech companies spend serious money on buying up Solar and Wind farms: Facebook, Apple, Google, Wal-Mart, and Ikea all either bought or built their own renewable energy farms.

Several even made promises to begin using completely 100% renewable energy: Facebook is already using all-renewable-energy data centres, Tesla’s GigaFactory isn’t far behind, and Ikea claimed it would become ‘Energy Independent’.  After 2014’s splurge on renewables, some of these large corporations are moving down the supply chain: they are buying up places that supply their paper and wood.

Facebook renewable data centres
Via GreenPeace
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The WSJ reports that Ikea has purchased nearly 100,000 acres in the Baltic region, after having been accused of removal of old forests and ‘brutal’ logging practices in Russia.  The company no longer logs in Russia, and have set its sights on its Romanian forests.  If it seems strange to focus in on Ikea, the numbers might shed some light on this: Ikea uses a stagger 1% of the entire planets wood supply, a number the company has desperately been trying to scale back by 50 per cent.  The company says it’s all part of its plan to become ‘forest positive’ within five years, by growing more wood than it uses.

The hope is that this new take on forestry management – and a conservation/corporation partnership – could help strengthen ‘working forests’ and protect the more vulnerable old-growth forests and more fragile places that still exist.

Following in Ikea’s steps, Apple recently purchased its own 36,000 wooded acres in North Carolina and Maine.  The areas bought by Apple were/are so-called ‘Working Forests’, meaning they are areas designated as sources of wood and paper for industries.  Apple, in collaboration with the Conservation Fund, says the size and scope of these forests are growing quickly.  If that sounds like bad news, that’s because it is.  Apple Spokeswoman Lisa Jackson explained a bit about why Apple bought the land in a blog posting:

“We are in the midst of one of the greatest land transfers in history. In the last 15 years, we’ve already lost 23 million acres of forestland that provided the pulp, paper, and solid wood material for products we all use. That’s roughly an area the size of Maine. As land continues to be sold and change hands at an alarming rate, an estimated 45 million more acres are currently in the crosshairs of development.”

The Conservation Fund’s work is an attempt to put limits on how these ‘working forests’ can be used.

The group has plans to make sure the land will “ensure sustainable harvests and restrict the subdivision or conversion of land to non-forest uses,”

Apple's promise for the Environment

The idea is a bit radical and fairly recent.  Harvard ecologist David Foster came up with this type of forestry management back in 2009 and was subsequently interviewed by the New York Times, saying this about the problem:

“Now we tend to do it in places we don’t see. And we’re going to preserve our land, but, hell, we live in houses and we like the wood. Where’s it coming from? It’s going to come from British Columbia and Malaysia — and cutting it is going to do damage to much more pristine areas and without oversight.”

Both Apple and Ikea are very much corporations and have very different goals than conservationists and ecologists, but they all have found middle ground to help better manage their resources, thanks in part, perhaps, to growing public concern.

The hope is that this new take on forestry management – and a conservation/corporation partnership – could help strengthen ‘working forests’ and protect the more vulnerable old-growth forests and more fragile places that still exist.

[With Files from the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times & The Conservation Fund]

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