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Wed Feb 23, 2022, 10:30 PM

High Cost of Ikea: 2/3rd of Romanias Forests & Violence

Romania is home to one of the largest and most important old-growth forests in the world—but its trees are disappearing at an astonishing rate. Meanwhile, a spate of attacks, and deaths, has shaken environmentalists and activists in the country. On episode 43 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk with the reporter Alexander Sammon, who recently traveled to Romania to investigate illegal logging for The New Republic. Can Europe’s forests survive the global appetite for timber?


Laura Marsh: In September, the reporter Alexander Sammon traveled to Romania to investigate illegal logging. He knew going in that there had been a spate of attacks on journalists and environmentalists in the forest. In 2015, an environmentalist named Gabriel Paun was beaten unconscious by loggers. The former minister of waters and forest was poisoned with mercury in 2017, after she tried to crack down on illegal logging. In 2019, two forest rangers were murdered, and in 2021, just before Alex arrived, a documentary film crew was ambushed in their car by a group of 15 armed men.

Laura: A lot of people might not understand why the stakes are so high: why there are these attacks, why it’s so fraught. What is at stake in clearing the last of the old-growth forests?

Alexander: There’s a lot of money on the line—that’s one thing. There are huge multinational timber corporations, and there are furniture companies like Ikea, which happens to be the largest private landowner in Romania. They all have a lot riding on those trees becoming things like chairs and particleboard and bed frames and the like. On the other side, you have the European Union and its climate commitments and biodiversity commitments, which are, I think, less prominent and less widely known. Those forests are extremely important because they’re not only the most effective carbon capture method on the planet—the old-growth forest captures carbon at this incredible rate that’s not seen in logged and replanted forests—but they also serve as an ecosystem for bears and lynx and other endangered or threatened species.

Near end of interview:
Laura: I never like to ask how individual people can react to discovering this kind of information—I don’t like talking about the way consumers can vote with their dollar and not buy from Ikea. But if you are in Ikea and you’re shopping for furniture, can you even find out what came from Romania and what didn’t?

Alexander: It’s really hard to tell. It’s actually almost impossible. If you were to go to Ikea right now and look at what’s on the shelves there in the stockroom, the furniture pieces will say, “Made in Romania,” “Made in Poland,” “Made in Russia,” but that only tells you the last link of the chain: It shows you where they assembled the pieces and put them together. It doesn’t tell you where the wood is coming from, and that information is not publicly available.

Alex: You were tipped off to these codes that could help someone to figure out the source of the wood in this furniture, and you actually went to an Ikea and found furniture that could be sourced to a particular company. Tell me about the company it could be sourced to.

Alexander: I was tipped off to this one code that corresponds to Plimob, which is a Romanian-based manufacturer. It’s not owned by Ikea, but something between like 96 and 98 percent of their product goes to Ikea. I was tipped off with their code, and I took it with me on the way down to the Ikea here in Brooklyn. I looked through the chairs, trying to find if I could identify something that had come from there. Sure enough, after a little while, I found a handful of them that had that multiple-digit code that indicated that they come from that particular company. That company, Plimob, had recently been implicated in sourcing illegally logged wood for its chairs. The information is there, but it’s certainly not publicly available. As a consumer, there’s almost no way you could expect to find those things out and act or shop accordingly.

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Reply High Cost of Ikea: 2/3rd of Romanias Forests & Violence (Original post)
leighbythesea2 Feb 2022 OP
msongs Feb 2022 #1

Response to leighbythesea2 (Original post)

Wed Feb 23, 2022, 10:36 PM

1. western usa has probably tens of milions of bark beetle killed trees available for any purpose nt

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