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Why Ikea just bought an 11,000-acre forest in Georgia

In southeast Georgia, a forest covering nearly 11,000 acres was at risk of being split up and developed. But a conservation organization acquired the land to protect it—and Ikea’s parent company, Ingka Group, just bought it under a contract that will continue to protect the local ecosystem.

For Ikea, it’s one piece of a strategy to become “climate positive” by 2030, meaning that the company will reduce more greenhouse gas emissions than it emits through its value chain. As the company slashes emissions directly by using renewable energy, shifting to electric delivery vehicles, rethinking materials, and implementing new business models such as taking back old furniture and repairing it for resale, it’s also turning to trees to suck CO2 from the atmosphere.

In Georgia, the company acquired the forest from a nonprofit called the Conservation Fund. The group buys up working forests—meaning they’re places where wood is harvested—and puts in place permanent easements that mean the land can never be broken up in a future sale and the native forest will be protected and restored as habitat for local species. (In this case, the forest, near Georgia’s Altamaha River Basin, is a habitat for the gopher tortoise, a turtle that is a priority species for conservation.) The public also has the right to hike on the land, something that normally wouldn’t happen in a working forest.

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