IKEA Purchased Over 10,000 Acres in Georgia For Conservation
Over 10,000 acres in southeastern Georgia were bought up for conservation purposes by an unsuspecting source: IKEA. The Swedish retailer’s investment group, Ingka Group, acquired the acreage in the southern U.S. state from The Conservation Fund in an effort to protect the Altamaha River Basin and the surrounding ecosystems it feeds.
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The 10,800 acres of Georgia forest is home to a plethora of plant and animal species, including the endangered longleaf pine and the gopher tortoise, which can only be protected if their habitat remains intact. Only about four percent of the original 90 million-acre forest is left after centuries of agricultural land clearing, and Ingka Group wanted to ensure that it would stay untouched.
“We truly believe responsible forest management is possible and 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,” Krister Mattsson, managing director of Ingka Group, said in a statement, per Inhabitat. “In all our properties nature conservation is important. In this particular U.S. investment in Georgia, first it is important that the land cannot be broken up into small units and it remains forever forestland.”
Ingka Group, which has already purchased about 613,000 acres of forest across the U.S. (Oklahoma, South Carolina, Alabama, and Texas), Estonia, Latvia, Romania, and Lithuania, plans to support the local timber industry while also opening up the forest for recreational purposes.
Across 1,186 acres of their U.S. land, Ingka Group planted 600,000 seedlings between September 2019 and August 2020, and close to 7 million seedlings worldwide.
“We are honored to work with Ingka Group and applaud its dedication to preserve and enhance forest quality in the U.S. and Europe,” The Conservation Fund president and CEO Larry Selzer said in a statement. “Well-managed forests provide essential benefits, including clean water and important wildlife habitat, as well as mitigating climate change.”
“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.