Over a period of 20 years, IKEA has together with partners restored around 18 500 hectares of rainforest in Borneo, Malaysia. The area has now been given the highest protection status in Malaysia, and with increasing awareness of the need to end global biodiversity loss, IKEA and partners invite research organizations from all over the world to take part in the learnings from the Sow a Seed project.
“IKEA is committed to improving biodiversity and protecting ecosystems throughout the value chain and beyond. One important component is the restoration and protection of degraded landscapes. The Sow a Seed project in Borneo, started by IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad 20 years ago, provides important insights into how this can be done.” says Ulf Johansson, Head of Global Wood Supply and Forestry, Inter IKEA Group.
The rainforest in Borneo had been destroyed by fires and irresponsible logging, causing the loss of many indigenous tree species. After assisting the natural forest regeneration and replanting three million seedlings of around 80 indigenous species of large trees and nurturing them to maturity, other species have followed to recreate a valuable forest ecosystem which in many ways is close to the original.
And most importantly – wildlife has started to return to the area, including pygmy elephants, orangutans, clouded leopards, and hornbills, as well as other rare species spotted using camera traps.
Even though the Sow a Seed project is not connected to the IKEA value chain, IKEA has funded and actively supported the project together with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and Sabah Foundation, a Malaysian government organization. Aside from funding, IKEA has been provided expertise, training and been part of a multi-stakeholder governance model for the project.
“Against the backdrop of climate change and accelerating biodiversity loss, the Sow a Seed project brings important learnings in terms of carbon storage, ecosystem integrity, water quality, and much more. Data from over 20 years exists. The most important conclusion is that it is very much possible to regenerate rainforests and restore biodiversity. Given the fact that there are many millions of hectares of degraded rainforests in Borneo alone, that knowledge is invaluable,” says Ulrik Ilstedt, Associate Professor at SLU.
One of the major components of the project has been the research activities. Researchers are actively involved in the project to support the development and to gain and share knowledge. IKEA is currently funding a post-doctoral position which will determine the amount of carbon stored and measurable biodiversity gains, with results coming in the next two years. IKEA strongly encourages further research in the area:
“The site is unique in the sense that is provides the opportunity to study a 20-year-old restored rainforest with data assembled through the restoration period. There is infrastructure and strong local competence to assist research in the area. Apart from the restored forest itself, the learnings of how our world’s forests can be restored is what we see as our main contribution through this project” says Annie Sandgren, Project Manager at Wood Supply and Forestry.