Swedish multinational conglomerate IKEA has bought forestland in southeast Georgia. The Ingka Group, which owns and operates most IKEA stores, said that the retail giant purchased 10,840 acres of land near the Altamaha River Basin to protect the forest and its diverse ecosystem from development.
As reported by CNN, Krister Mattsson, Ingka Investments managing director, said the company believes that responsible forest management is possible and nature conservation is important. "We see that a large part of our responsibility towards the land we own -- and by extension the planet -- is to restore forests and plant more than we harvest," he added.
"In this particular US investment in Georgia, first it is important that the land cannot be broken up into small units and it remains forever forestland," said Mattsson.
The Forest Land
IKEA acquired the land from The Conservation Fund, which is a non-profit conservation organization. The forest land includes over 350 plant and wildlife species, such as endangered longleaf pine and gopher tortoise.
Previously, the longleaf pine forest used to cover more than 90 million acres between the south of Virginia and Florida, as well as parts of Texas. In Georgia, the longleaf pine is also known as "Pinus palustris" used to dominate the southern half of the state. But now less than four percent of the forest is left.
The decline happened due to the land clearing for development and agriculture purposes and also because of fire suppression, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Mattsson told CNN, local timber-based economies will continue to grow, while people will have access to much of the land for recreational purposes.
Larry Selzer, who is the president of The Conservation Fund, said in a statement: "We are honored to work with Ingka Group and applaud its dedication to preserve and enhance forest quality in the US and Europe. Well-managed forests provide essential benefits, including clean water and important wildlife habitat, as well as mitigating climate change."
Ingka Investments has purchased almost 612,821 acres of forestland since 2014. Apart from the US, it includes forest lands in Estonia, Romania, Latvia and Lithuania. Apart from lands in Georgia, the group also owns forest properties in Alabama, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. That is not it. The company has also planted close to seven million seedings in several countries all over the world.
"For all the forests we own, our commitment is to manage them responsibly, to preserve and increase the quality of the forests over time," Mattsson said.
While talking about the company's vision on forest management, he said that it 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," he added.