Pewits in IKEA’s way

Conservationists argue building a planned new warehouse in Vestby further threatens the species

Photo: Hans Hillewaert / Wikimedia Commons Vanellus vanellus, the Northern Lapwing.

Photo: Hans Hillewaert / Wikimedia Commons
Vanellus vanellus, the Northern Lapwing.

Michael Sandelson
The Foreigner

This Northern Lapwing information is the latest event in an ongoing Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature-IKEA dispute.

The Swedish interior giant wants to build the facility in the center of Akershus County’s town of Vestby.

The Society says that the increasingly rare Vanellus vanellus has been found at the proposed site, and is on the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List for 2015.

Local Society leaders Kristian Østbye and Trygve Olsen told publication Vestby­avis they found it odd that IKEA had not mentioned biological diversity in their plans.

Environmental Party Miljøpartiet De Grønne (MDG) also criticized IKEA at last week’s meeting in Vestby town hall regarding their planned relocation of topsoil from where they plan to erect the construction.

The conservationists say they are not opposed to IKEA establishing itself in Vestby—which had 3,000 Facebook group supporters as of last week—but that they should never have been allowed to use the land in this particular place (called Delijordet). “We believe the matter will be stopped sooner or later, and the Society is willing to go a long way to obtain a definitive end to these plans.”

IKEA press spokesperson Kristian Willanger tells The Foreigner that “an obligatory impact assessment has been carried out by expert company Asplan Viak on our behalf regarding the environment and biological diversity.”

“It has shown evidence of the existence of both Northern Lapwings and several other birds there that are on the Red List. We will of course incorporate what the Society says in our further work, but Asplan Viak’s findings show that there will not be any critical impact to biological diversity when it comes to the construction process.”

Time municipality in western Norway’s Rogaland County has the Northern Lapwing as its emblem.

According to officials, it is “a true and unfailing sign that spring is on its way, and a symbol of optimism and drive.”

Norwegian author Arne Garborg (1851-1924), born in Rogaland County, wrote of the lapwing in his 1892 novel, Peace, that “…spring had come; the northwest wind took its chilling hand off the land and everything came to life… The children came rushing home from the fields and marshes, thrilled with joy and mirth: ‘The lapwing is back! Mommy, the lapwing is back!’”

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit

It also appeared in the April 24, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

Norwegian American Logo

The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.