Human Interest Ikea Buys More Than 10,000 Acres of Land in Georgia to Protect It From Being Developed The land is home to endangered and threatened species like the gopher tortoise By Rachel DeSantis Rachel DeSantis Instagram Twitter Rachel DeSantis is a writer/reporter covering music at PEOPLE. She has held various roles since joining the brand in 2019, and was previously a member of the human interest team. As a music writer, Rachel interviews everyone from rock-and-roll legends to up-and-coming stars for magazine feature stories and digital news stories. Rachel is based in New York City, and previously worked as an entertainment reporter at the New York Daily News after getting her start as an Entertainment Weekly intern. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. People Editorial Guidelines Published on February 1, 2021 03:59 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Stacy Funderburke Ikea's investment group recently acquired nearly 11,000 acres of land in southeast Georgia, taking it under its wing to protect it from development, and to keep its hundreds of plant and wildlife species safe. The Ingka Group, which owns and operates most of the popular Swedish retailer's stores, recently acquired approximately 10,840 acres of land near the Altamaha River Basin from The Conservation Fund, a nonprofit that over the years has worked to protect more than 8 million acres of land. The area is home to more than 350 plant and wildlife species that will now be protected from harm, including the endangered longleaf pine and gopher tortoise, according to CNN. RELATED VIDEO: Alaska Animal Rescue's Jeff Corwin Talks Conservation and the Effects of Coronavirus on Nature The longleaf pine can live for over 300 years, but currently covers less than 3 percent of its original range after most of it disappeared by the 1920s, according to the National Wildlife Federation. The gopher tortoise, meanwhile, has been threatened over the years by habitat destruction, fragmentation and degradation, mainly from urbanization and development, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The new acquisition brings Ingka Investment's ownership to 136,000 acres across Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma, manager director Krister Mattsson said in a statement. Alligator Wrestling Tourist Attractions Hurting Not Helping Gator Conservation, Study Finds "We are committed to managing our forests sustainably while at the same time meeting our business objectives. In all our properties, we pay special attention to ensuring environmental protection, so we are happy to see that our efforts in working with responsible forest management are being seen and trusted," he said. Ikea previously announced its plan to become carbon neutral by 2030, and has adopted a series of initiatives meant to make the company more climate-friendly, including phasing out all single-use plastic items offered in customer and coworker restaurants, bistros and cafes. The Ingka Group — which also owns forestland in four different European countries — planted 600,000 seedlings in the U.S. between September 2019 and August 2020.