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IKEA in the spotlight: Flatpack furniture linked to ‘systematic destruction’ of Romanian forests

IKEA has been accused of contributing to the rapid deterioration of Romania’s biologically rich forests.

Two recent investigations reveal the impact of the flatpack furniture giant on the country’s Carpathian mountains, one of Europe’s largest remaining areas of primary and old growth forests. 

According to a Greenpeace report, more than 50 per cent of Romania’s ancient forests have disappeared in the past 20 years, due to corruption and poor law enforcement. 

A new report from the NGO details the role that IKEA and the Ingka Group, its largest franchisee, have played in this plundering - some of which has taken place in supposedly protected areas.

Around 3,000 square kilometres of Romania's forests are protected by European laws as Natura 2000 sites. 

But Romania’s multi-billion euro timber industry - with the so-called ‘wood mafia’ at its heart - is plagued by systemic corruption and poor law enforcement. Logging and irresponsible forestry practices threaten the remaining forest.

In 2019, leaked data from a government report revealed that almost 40 million cubic metres of wood are cut from the country’s forests each year, half of which is illegally harvested.

In 2020, the European Commission began infringement proceedings against the Romanian government after NGOs complained it was failing to address the extensive logging of virgin forests within its protected Natura 2000 areas. 

The Commission also threatened to send the case to the European Court of Justice but, as yet, this has not happened.

“Despite some improvements and warnings from the European Commission, Romania continues to fail to uphold its legal duty to properly protect the EU’s last large remaining primary and old growth forests,” says Agata Syfraniuk, lead