Czech companies raise alarm as they start to focus on the wood from the trees

Czech firms have started ringing alarm bells at the lack of locally grown timber that can meet the toughest ecological growth standards. The alarm has been prompted by moves by some of the world’s biggest timber users, such as furniture designer, maker, and seller Ikea to set a target by 2020 that all the wood used in its outlets comes from recycled or fully sustainable sources.

Photo: Kristýna MakováPhoto: Kristýna Maková In basic terms, the latter means that wood should have the FSC label confirming it comes from fully sustainable forests.

According to the daily paper Dnes, it is currently estimated that only around 2.0 percent of Czech forests can meet the top ecological standard. At stake, the paper says, is the 375,000 cubic metres of wood that IKEA orders annually in the Czech Republic, the 3.0 million crowns of business that that it annually represents, and the 4,000 people whose future are wrapped up in supplying the wood. The paper reports that Ikea’s supplies could well be sourced elsewhere with Czech furniture makers angered that the government did not see the problem coming earlier and start making preparations for it.

The paper cites a letter from the Czech Chamber of Commerce warning Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka that Poland is in pole position to benefit from the move towards stricter ecological timber because 75 percent of forests there already comply with the FSC standard.

Furthermore, it argues that neither the prime minister nor Czech agriculture minister, Marian Jurečka, are taking steps to ensure that the FSC certificate is more widely applied by the country’s biggest forestry company, state-owned Lesy ČR. The ministry and forestry company argue the move to the FSC format would probably entail large costs and a wholesale change in cultivation procedures.