Most of the forest will be planted with radiata pine. Photo: 123RF / Lakeview Image Library

The company which owns retail giant Ikea has bought 5500 hectares of Otago farmland to plant into forest.

Ingka Group was approved to make the purchase of Wisp Hill by the Overseas Investment Office in August.

A lease-back requirement will allow the former owners to properly phase out their operations over a minimum three-year period.

The company said it planned to plant 3300 hectares with radiata pine this year, with the long-term plan of planting 3000 hectares with over 3 million seedlings in the next five years.

Some 2200 hectares would be left to naturally revert into native bush.

Managing Director of Ingka Investments, Krister Mattsson said responsible forest management created jobs and added value in local communities by supporting the local economy.

“Having a good impact in the neighbouring communities is an important part of our approach to responsible forest management. We will work closely with the former owners of the land and with local forestry specialists to prepare the land for a new forest,” Mattsson said.

She said the focus was on growing the forest over 30-plus years to contribute to removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

“We are delighted to expand our forestry portfolio into a new country and this investment demonstrates our long-term commitment to New Zealand.

“Responsible forest management, reforestation and afforestation all form part of the solution for climate change, and we are committed to enhancing carbon removal through our forests,” she said.

Ingka Group currently owns around 248,000 hectares of forest in the US, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Romania.

See more HERE.