“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,” Ingka Investments managing director Krister Mattsson told CNN.
“In all our properties nature conservation is important. In this particular US investment in Georgia, first it is important that the land cannot be broken up into small units and it remains forever forestland.”
The land, acquired from non-profit conservation organization The Conservation Fund, is home to more than 350 plant and wildlife species — including the endangered longleaf pine and gopher tortoise — which are now protected.
Before the European migration to North America, the longleaf pine forest covered more than 90 million acres from southern Virginia to Florida, and as far west as Texas. In Georgia, the tree dominated the southern half of the state.
Local timber-based economies will continue to be supported, Mattsson said, and the public will have access to much of the land for recreational purposes.
Since 2014, Ingka Investments has bought around 612,821 acres of forestland in the US, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania. Along with Georgia, the group owns forest properties in Alabama, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.
While the Ingka Group is dedicated to investing in and conserving forests, the company has also planted close to 7 million seedlings in countries all over the world.
“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.
“Our vision on forest management is to consider all the functions of a forest and plan for dozens of years ahead. We look at it as a commitment to balance the economic, environmental and social aspects related to the forest.”