The Forest and Furniture Mafia




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owner precious disappear
rate one-tenth alarming
vanish portray approachable
brand conduct responsible
deny customer make a difference
critic riddle (3) wilderness
claim corruption take advantage of
buck previous responsible
hurt brand (2) out of control
guard activist feed/fed/fed
afraid humiliate thief/thieves
supply threaten corporation
wood heritage synonymous
log (3) stretch (2) as far as you can see
range spruce sustainable
air (2) storage carbon (2)
haven area (2) wolf/wolves
lynx combat management
own remove clear cut (2)
raze ground widespread
soil ecological paperwork
height prepare with regards to
expert find out systematic
habitat area (2) malpractice
insect detriment one-by-one
hectare stage (2) biodiversity
depend specified interview (2)
border manner irresponsible
reply franchise investment
ranger structure responsible
plan mention compliance
remove approve submit (2)
exploit stand (3) specification
oak doctor (3) regeneration
law follow (2) no such thing
rule major (2) discrepancy
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Did you know that one-tenth of Europeans was conceived on an Ikea bed? Maybe.

But what you probably did not know is that Ikea is the largest private forest owner in Romania, a country covered in precious woodlands that are disappearing at an alarming rate.

Ikea portrays its brand as “modern, sustainable, and approachable” through ads like this:

“Because we know that responsible forest management helps to combat climate change. We make a difference for the future of the forest, and people living around them.”

And I can’t deny that I have been a life-long customer myself. But Ikea seems to be responsible for acts like this.

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Critics claim that Ikea have been exploiting the forest for a quick buck, hurting the environment of one of the last, true European wildernesses. And taking advantage of an industry that is riddled with corruption and violence.

So are critics right: is Ikea really the bad guy? Are the organizations that make up the eighteen billion dollar ($18 billion) world famous brand responsible for using their market power to exploit Romania’s natural heritage, by feeding off a broken system?

Angela Mihut, Villager: “Their jobs turned them into thieves, the mayor and forest guard. And that’s when people started becoming unhappy.”

Tiberiu Bosutar. Activist: “In the area where we’re going now, I’ve been attacked, humiliated, had my life threatened. It makes me very afraid. And with good reason.”

Gabriel Paun. Agent Green Founder: “International corporations are choosing Romania as a supplier of wood, knowing that the country is synonymous with corruption.”

We went to Romania to see for ourselves . . . and what we found was a logging industry out of control.

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The Dark Side of IKEA in Romania

The Carpatians, a mountain range stretching all the way from Czech Republic to Romania, spruce forests as far as you can see, a source of clean air, and an important carbon storage.

These woods serve as a haven for plants and animals, such as wolves and lynxes and bears.

But these forests are vanishing quickly.

We traveled to central Romania. A three hour drive out of the capital Bucharest is an area of Ikea-owned forest land.

Here, we meet with Dan Turiga. Turiga is a forest ranger by training, and has been working for the environment NGO Agent Green, as a forestry expert working on a study on Ikea’s forestry management.

And today, he is here to show us what they found out.

Dan Turiga, Forest Ranger: “This is where they completely razed the forest to the ground. A forest that was meant to protect the soil. And one that should have been logged in stages, within the next thirty years or more.”

The paperwork submitted by Ikea said that progressive logging was done here, meaning that individual trees were taken down, with regards to specification, like age and height.

According to Agent Green, a clear cut was performed, meaning the entire forest cover was removed — and with that, the habitat of different kinds of species from plants to insects to birds.

Agent Green has put together this report. They say there has been systematic malpractice in forest management to the detriment of the environment, local communities and natural protected areas.

Gabriel Paun. Agent Green Founder: “This time we wanted to look at what they are doing to their own forests. And we have taken them one-by-one, meaning several forest bodies around Romania. They are quite widespread in the Carpathians.

And we were very surprised by what we found.”

This area is special: it is a biodiversity haven that borders is a 2000 hectare area. These are areas specified by the EU to be protected — because of their importance for biodiversity.

All forest life here depend on the trees, which the NGO accuses Ikea of having logged in an irresponsible manner.

Ikea wasn’t going to sit down with us for an interview, but they offered written answers to our questions. These answers came from Ingka Investments, a franchise within the organization’s corporate structure responsible for Ikea’s forests.

They replied, “No clearcutting was conducted in the mentioned area, and all operations were in full compliance with the approved Forest Management Plan.”

Adding, “The trees in the above mentioned area were removed to correct poor ecological management by a previous owner. The land needed to be prepared in order to prepare native oak stands.”

Dan Turiga, Forest Ranger: “Here, there was no such thing done. This is natural regeneration. The ones who logged in this area have doctored documents to atch the laws, to make them look like they were following the law.

Only if you come here, you can see the major discrepancies between what they wrote and what they’ve done.

According to Ikea’s official documents and the rules in place, a reforestation of seventy percent (70%) should have taken place — meaning oak trees everywhere.

But it just doesn’t seem that way.

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Oak. Ikea makes and sells furniture only in Sweden. True or false?

Spruce. Does Ikea create promote an image of itself as being a big, powerful, rich and successful enterprise?

Walnut. Describe the Carpathian mountains and forest lands.

Beech. According to the report, are Romania’s forests being preserved and protected?

Ash. All Romanians take part in clearcutting forests. All Romanians support the deforestation of the Carpathian Mountains. Is this right or wrong?

Aspen. What is the biggest or main problem in Romania, regarding the protection and preservation of nature?

Willow. Is there discrepancy between the positions of Ikea and the findings of ecologists?

Linden. The Romanian timber industry, government and environmentalists work together and cooperate in environmental issues. Is this correct or incorrect?
Apple. Are there many forests and woodlands in your country?

Teak. Are forests being clearcut, protected and preserved, both or in the middle?

Mahogany. What do people think about forests and the environment?

Birch. What might happen in the future?

Ginkgo. What could or should people, businesses, schools, governments do?

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