A ‘Chipko Movement’ In Germany Is Hoping to Save Europe’s Oldest Forest
HAMBACH FOREST, GERMANY: While the world assembled in the German city of Bonn to fight climate change and global warming, maybe not quite far away from the place, a group of people were embracing an interesting approach to save the oldest forests of Europe. 50 kilometers away from Bonn – this month, the climate change convention was held – Hambach Forest is an imperiled land now. The danger of a police force and an effect of powerful energy and a mining firm whined over the people that are opposing the devastation of the jungle.
“What’s happening here is that RWE, the second most important energy company in Germany, is eliminating one of the oldest forests in each one of the Europe to make space for the brown coal mine and dig up the coal and burn it and eliminate people from here. Ninety percent of this forest was cut down and some 150,000 people were displaced until today,” said one of those masked activists who did not need to be identified.
The activists have dug on the streets leading to a jungle. An enormous banner read “Respect presence or expect resistance” – a clear sign of more agitation and confrontation in forthcoming days. A barricade stood on it with a statue of Jesus Christ.
“This barricade would be to prevent the police from penetrating into the forests and ruin it. Thus, we hope the motorist is a devout Christian and wouldn’t wish to tear this down Jesus barricade,” he said.
The movement in Hambach forest has special significance since the chancellor Angela Markel was campaigning for clean energy. Ironically, Germany is the largest carbon emitter in Europe. It contributes to 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions of this continent. The coal mine in Hambach is said to be among the biggest mines in Europe. It’s spread in over 80 km and extracts over 40 million ton of coal. Protesters dread that power company has stopped the cutting and mining edge of the jungle because of the climate summit at Bonn.
“When the summit finishes they’ll restart mining and cutting the trees in forests,” said one protester.
Thus, the activists have occupied the remaining forests and formed tree-houses from the trees. This can be an interesting strategy to conserve forest which would remind Indians of the Chipko Movement of the Himalayas. In Uttarakhand, the province of India when builders attempted to cut down forests for wood timber, from felling, girls clung to rescue them.
“The purpose of the tree home is to conserve tree. If there’s a tree home, people can squat on the tree. Until the moment there’s a person up on the tree it can’t be cut down. This way we protect the trees and our climate,” said a young activist.
These activists aren’t just from Germany but parts of the world including from UK and US. One of them said, “This isn’t a fight only with this forest, but that really is a battle against a whole circumstance. We would like to oppose using coal to create electricity. We’re attempting to safeguard planet from climate change and combating against the structural violence.”
But will they just take up arms? “Well, our comrades have been in jail. We need to spare them. I personally will not take arms up. I will attempt to protect this forest by simply placing up barricades and struggle peacefully. But if somebody takes up arms to guard the jungles, I’ll support him,” said one of those activists residing in Hambach forest.