‘Old Growth’ Claims Snare FSC and Ikea

Turns out that allegations of inappropriate use of ‘old growth’ forests span the world. What’s more, it turns out they can ensnare those who least expect it, including those who typically are on the other side of the allegations and sometimes, are more than a little pious about it.

Media reports (UK: The Sunday Times ~ 23rd February 2014) suggest that the household furniture behemoth, Ikea, and the certification scheme, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) are apparently linked to unsustainable old-growth forest harvesting, against the provisions of the FSC. Of particular interest is that the situation complained of in the article seems very similar to those FSC and some of its stakeholders often complain about in respect of others.

Ikea’s forestry arm, Swedwood, has been stripped of its certification by the FSC, related to the sustainability of its harvesting of wood near the Russian-Finnish border which is described as “…home to one of Europe’s last great forests.” Swedwood’s forest management practices came under question in an audit, with allegations including ancient trees from the Karelia forest region, could have ended up in what is described as “…cut-price Ikea furniture…”

From time to time, any major land-user will face questions about the sustainability of its processes and the outcomes it produces. Thats the case here with Swedwood and Ikea and doubtless, they will find a means to rectify the situation and continue their business operation. Certainly that is what they have stated they intend to do.

We are used to hearing of issues of this type, especially in relation to developing countries. Many of us take them, correctly, in our stride. After all, most of us understand that sustainability is not an outcome, its a journey of continuous improvement.

What is less common is the direct challenge, by environmental groups, to the system operated by the FSC. The Sunday Times reports that:

For conservation groups, which have long argued that logging in Karelia is inherently unsustainable and the the FSC certification system is deeply flawed, the decision is a belated victory.

It will be intriguing, to us at least, to see whether the concerned environmental groups are able to continue their criticisms of the FSC and expose in detail the flaws in its system. Some would argue that is long overdue.

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