Ikea selling children’s furniture linked with illegal tree felling in Russian forests

It’s estimated an item made from illegally-sourced wood is purchased an average of every two minutes.

The retailer has been accused of using illegally-sourced wood in the past.
The retailer has been accused of using illegally-sourced wood in the past.

Retail giant Ikea has been selling children’s furniture made from wood linked to vast illegal logging in Russian forests, according to environmental non-profit Earthsight.

Earthsight’s investigation found that Ikea had sourced pine from companies guilty of illegal logging in Serbia for several years - with the Sundvik children’s range most likely to contain the wood.

Sign up to our NationalWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

We want to hear from you: let us know what you think about this story and be part of the debate in our comments section below

At a glance: 5 key points

- The year-long investigation discovered that Ikea sourced pine from a group of companies responsible for illegal logging in climate critical Serbian forests, with the pine certified as legal and sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

- Earthsight estimates a product containing the pine has been bought every two minutes on average around the world, with chairs, tables, beds and wardrobes from Ikea’s children’s range most affected.

- Long-time Ikea supplier and multi-millionaire Evgeny Bakurov is at the centre of the scandal, with his company breaching numerous forestry and environmental regulations to supply the retailer with lumber.

- Earthsight traced Bakurov’s pine to Indonesian furniture manufacturer PT Karya Sutarindo (PTKS), which supplied more than 2.2 million items of children’s furniture to Ikea last year with a value of $60 million.

-The illegal logging from Siberia’s forests is leaving them more prone to wildfires and contributing to huge biodiversity loss.

What’s been said

Ikea confirmed it was being supplied by Bakurov but insisted the wood was “legally harvested”.

The furniture retailer told Earthsight in June that it dropped Bakurov’s companies as suppliers sometime in spring of this year.

The company recently announced it was temporarily banning the use of sanitary felled wood from the Russia Far East and Siberia.

Earthsight director Sam Lawson said: “We welcome the actions Ikea and FSC have taken in recent weeks in response to our findings, but they don’t go anything like far enough.

“These are systemic problems, requiring systemic solutions, which go beyond one buyer, one supplier or one country. Governments in Europe and the US need to act urgently to stem the flow of stolen wood once and for all.”

Background

This is not the first time Ikea has been caught out selling illegally-sourced wood, with Earthsight last year exposing the company in their “Flatpacked Forests” investigation.

Earthsight said that both Ikea and the wood watchdog have failed to take any lasting lessons from the previous expose.

“Until they reform, they are doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes,” Earthsight said.