The Battle for the Hambach Forest

By Michael Regenfuss of Deep Green Resistance

There is an ongoing fight, just north of Düsseldorf, Germany, to save the Hambach Forest, Germany’s last old growth forest. The forest is a 1,000 hectare old growth oak forest right next to the largest open cast coal mine in Europe. The mine is 12 kilometers long, 4 kilometers wide, and 300 meters deep. The mine produces 100,000,000 tons of coal per year, used to supply 5 power plants.

The coal is used primarily for the weapons manufacturing industry in the nearby Rhineland industrial district. The mine is set to operate until 2045. The forest was acquired in 1978 by RWE, which now operates the mine. The forest was originally 5,500 hectares and since 1972 had been owned by the municipality of Niederzier. Since 1978 the forest has largely been cleared to make way for brown coal mining.

The company has also been using a law that the Nazis used to take land from people to evict people from entire villages. Over a ten year period this relocation process has removed entire village populations and demolished the structures to mine the coal underneath. During the relocation process some elders have died due to the stress and heartbreak of losing their homes. Many people are coming down with cancers, heart disease, and emphysema from airborne toxic particles.

The remaining forest, despite its dramatic diminution, is still a functioning habitat. It consists primarily of oak and hornbeam, who shelter endangered Bechstein’s bats.

An ongoing blockade has been in place since April 2012 to save this remnant forest. The blockade was evicted from the forest in November 2012, but after only one day they regrouped and occupied a meadow next to the forest. In April 2013 they reoccupied the forest. More recent actions included a treesit in a 250 year old oak at the edge of the forest, a group of Earth First! members blocking the loading of coal trucks, and a protest in nearby Bergheim against a newly built coal burning plant.

The struggle continues to save the Hambach Forest. For slides, videos, and more information on past actions and on the current blockade, visit Hambach Forest (English) or Hambacher Forst (German). If you can physically help with the blockade, please join them in person. You can also donate money through their website. Whatever you can do would be really appreciated. Time is running out for this place; the final showdown for this forest will probably happen by August 2015. Thank you for your interest and support to save this beautiful place.

Building a relationship with the land

Originally posted by Suzanne Williams at Elephant Journal

Born and bred in London, I’m a city girl through and through.

But there is something fundamentally missing from city life that I believe is absolutely vital to our continued existence on this planet; a meaningful relationship with the land.

However, when the ground is covered in cement and buildings nobody asks, “What relationship do I have to this land?” I don’t think anyone even notices the land at all, except when struggling up a hill with their shopping.

A relationship with the land is vital, however, because without it we are going to continue to consume and abuse the very environmental systems that support us and we may kill ourselves off completely.

Recently I got the opportunity to do an Integral Permaculture internship at an eco-village in Spain.

In big letters at the bottom of their website it said, “Don’t ask yourself if you like it here, ask yourself if the land wants you here!”

What a strange and alien concept to a city girl like me. However, it gave me the chance to go on a quest and find out what a relationship to the land really means.

Before we begin let’s look at some history.

For about 3,000,000 years our ancestors lived in a balanced relationship with nature.

We would take what we needed and leave the rest, for all the other types of life, accepting that sometime there would be bountiful abundance and sometimes we’d have to go without. If the hunter gather cultures we know of give us any ideas, we respected and revere the spirits of all living things and saw ourselves as belonging to the earth—instead of it belonging to us.

This worked pretty well until about 10,000 years ago, when we invented agriculture and were forced by circumstance to no longer see nature as abundant.

Instead, we began to see it as an enemy who came and killed our crops or stole our chickens. And what’s more, we decided that we were more intelligent than the planet and we should start running the show ourselves.

Fast forward to today and on the surface we’ve done pretty well. We can genetically modify our food to make it more resilient, keep thousands of chickens in giant barns away from other animals and use artificial fertilisers, stimulating abundant growth whenever we want.

So why do we all have this sneaky feeling, along with all that evidence, that something is going terribly wrong?

We need to face facts. Industrial civilization has severed our relationship with the land.

We have achieved many things in the process, but now it’s time to re-establish our relationship with the land in the way that indigenous tribes have been pleading us to do for centuries.

Each individual’s journey will be personal to them. I don’t think it can be explained in a 10 point list of “Things To-Do.” We need to get to know the land in our own way.

However, here are some things that have helped me over the last few weeks that might help you too.

Walking barefoot.

When we walk barefoot we are in immediate connection with the land. It’s not such a good idea in a city but in a muddy field or a grassy meadow our feet pick up all kinds of information about the land that we only have a vague idea about when walking in shoes.

One of the key practices in permaculture is observing.

What is growing where? Who is already living here? Which birds? Lizards? Insects? Plants? Humans? When I sat and observed I could see how this intricate dance of life played out in perfect synchronicity and where I fitted in.

Sometimes I talk to trees.

Yes I know, it’s a cliché, however the responses I “imagine” are always insightful, informative and sometimes in an uncanny way. Indigenous people have use intuition and “imagination” to directly communicate with living things for millions of years. When you want to know if the land wants you there then ask it.

If we imagine it telling you to bugger off, then listen and bugger off. (This is something we can do in a city, although perhaps not out loud.)

Sometimes I notice that we humans think we are a parasite on this planet.

But I don’t think that’s true. We grew from this planet and I think we have the ability to live in balance with all the other creatures in a cooperative and respectful way, like we did for millions of years.

It’s only recently (10,000 years) that we thought we’d have a go at taking control of our lives and the environment. It’s been fun, but it doesn’t work and we need to use this amazing consciousness we have to remember how we used to live with the land all those years ago.

I wonder if the land misses us?

We can’t have it all…

Mike Stasse at Damn the Matrix has posted a short analysis of the latest incarnation of the oft-repeated claim that we can generate all the electricity we “need” from a relatively small area of desert. Proponents of such claims rarely acknowledge that those deserts are habitat ― that is, home ― for many creatures. And as Stasse points out, the mining required to produce a solar farm causes tremendous harm.

The power of spin is such that the uninformed will continue believing we can have it all, only solar powered. We just have to fill those squares in North Africa, and everything will be cool…..

Read the full post at Damn the Matrix: The power of spin, and for a thorough critique of these techno-fixes, see the Deep Green Resistance Green Technology & Renewable Energy FAQs.

Unist’ot’en Camp report-back: Falling in Love

We recently highlighted Will Falk’s account as one of the Deep Green Resistance volunteers who braved the January snow and ice to help out at the Unist’ot’en Camp. Max Wilbert wrote another moving personal piece giving an overview of the Unist’ot’en Camp strategy and describing the experience of contributing to their struggle.

Snow lashed the road. The darkness was total, our headlights casting weak yellow beams into the darkness. Most people had hunkered down in homes and motels, and the roads were near empty. Still, every few minutes a passing truck threw a blinding cloud of dry snow into the air, leaving us blind for seconds at a time as we hurtled onwards at the fastest speeds we could manage.

We pressed on, for our destination was important. It was a caravan to the Unist’ot’en Camp, and we were committed.


Resistance is the antipode to the dominant culture, and the Unist’ot’en Camp illustrates two interlocking and fundamental truths. First, the system which is killing the planet and exploiting billions can and must be stopped. Second, resistance is our best chance of reclaiming the best traits our species can display: compassion, love, fierce loyalty, deep connection to the land, community and shared purpose.

Read Wilbert’s essay at Deep Green Resistance Seattle: Falling in Love and let it inspire you to support the Camp or another strategic campaign near and dear to you.

Large prairie dog colony to be destroyed for shopping mall

Image by DingoDogPhotography

Bellmeadow, a member of Deep Green Resistance Colorado, reports on the planned construction of the newest biggest mall in the US. The mall in Castle Rock, CO will destroy the home of one of the largest remnant prairie dog colonies on Colorado’s Front Range. Already reduced to 3% of their native range and less than 1% of their original population, prairie dogs would be considered an endangered species if not for the loophole of calling them “pests.”

Recently I heard news that our county (Douglas) was getting one of the nation’s biggest malls. The news simultaneously sunk my heart and angered me. Why the hell do we need another mall? To consume the world? Then my mind raced to the location of the mall, and the prairie dogs that live there. I had been worried about this colony before, about the strong possibility that the remaining colonies comprising hundreds of prairie dogs would be destroyed for some kind of development. After all, a Lowe’s store, an outlet mall, a housing project, and a tire store had occupied their territory and had already killed thousands of these dogs in the name of “development.” And this was the final solution for the 3,000 to 8,000 remaining burrows: complete annihilation of the prairie dogs for a shopping mall set to cover 170 acres in concrete.

Regular readers of this blog or listeners of Derrick Jensen’s Resistance Radio may remember his interview with Con Slobodchikoff on prairie dog language, in which they discussed their high level of intelligence. Sacrificing these beings for short term profit and another shopping mall should be criminal.

Unfortunately, as we know all too well, money and those who wield it write the laws. There’s probably no chance of saving the habitat for the colony under threat; the best-case scenario is “relocation”, a horrible process of sucking the dogs out of their homes, killing many and splitting up families in the process, and moving them to strange new territory where they may or may not survive. Even implementing this salvaging rescue mission will prove difficult, as few landowners are willing to accept the forced transplants, and if a location can be found, it’ll be another struggle to convince the developer to hold off on construction three months so the prairie dogs can be moved at the least harmful time of year.

If you care about prairie dogs and the other people crushed by the relentless expansion of civilization, if you feel anger or grief or shame, let that guide you to action. Join Deep Green Resistance and the culture of resistance!

Ocean Apocalypse: video lecture by Jeremy Jackson

In January 2013, Dr. Jeremy Jackson spoke at the U.S. Naval War College on the multitude of negative impacts of industrial civilization on the oceans of the world. Jackson is a Senior Scientist Emeritus at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and a marine ecologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, with decades of experience studying oceans around the world. He knows and cares about oceans and presents his depressing information in a succinct and engaging manner.

Jackson asks three crucial questions:

  • What are the most important human impacts on the oceans and their consequences today?
  • What are the projected consequences of these changes for the environment (and thus for human well being)?
  • What can we do to prevent these things from happening?

Jackson does an excellent job answering the first two questions. This video is important viewing for anyone who wants to learn about the desperate state of the oceans and their certain collapse if business as usual is allowed to continue.

Unfortunately, though he identifies the major threats as pollution, overfishing, and climate change, he doesn’t tie these together into a necessary broader critique of civilization. His proposed solutions, with a focus on green technology hopium and voting in the “right” leaders, are almost entirely useless.

Watch Ocean Apocalypse now, learn from Jackson’s summary of the problems, then consider the Deep Green Resistance Decisive Ecological Warfare strategy as an actual plan to save the oceans.

Gorilla Radio interviews: Will Falk and Vanessa Gray on the Unis’tot’en Camp

Liz McArthur of Victoria BC is creating a radio documentary on the Unis’tot’en Camp pipeline blockade. She interviewed two fellow volunteers who participated in the summer caravan to the Camp, and a third activist involved with defense of the Sacred Headwaters. The interviews aired on the August 4, 2014 episode of Gorilla Radio.

McArthur interviews:

  • Will Falk of Deep Green Resistance and Victoria Forest Action Network, on his environmental activism with the Camp and other efforts. He discusses the importance of supporting indigenous struggles, and what members of settler culture need to understand and how they should approach such solidarity work.
  • Vanessa Gray, a member of the Amjiwnaang nation in the Chemical Valley of Southern Ontario, describing the horrific conditions of living in close proximity to 63 oil and gas facilities, including pipelines, refineries, and loading docks. Gray describes the incredibly high rates of health problems brought on by this policy of environmental racism towards the indigenous. Gray brought youth to the Camp to show them that places still exist with clean water and air, and to inspire them to fight against the dominant culture of monetary profit at the sacrifice of people and land.
  • John Mowat Stephen briefly talks about activism with the Tahltan First Nation around the Sacred Headwaters in northern BC.

Listen to the interview to learn more about the front line struggles in BC against the fossil fuel industry, and how you can help:

Download mp3

Browse all DGR member appearances.

Chris Matera on biofuels and other excuses for clearcuts

Chris Matera founded and works in his spare time for Massachusetts Forest Watch, fighting against destruction of New England forests. Derrick Jensen interviewed him for the November 30 episode of Resistance Radio, discussing the many forces pushing for logging.

As expected, the timber industry puts out carefully crafted propaganda designed to confuse well meaning but ignorant people. Companies claim clearcutting will counteract stressors, correct forest imbalances, and otherwise improve forest health. They claim clearcutting will improve habitat for cute animals (already overabundant because of past logging), not mentioning the threatened species who will suffer further harm. They claim they need to clearcut trees now to prevent future hurricanes from knocking them down.

Less immediately transparent is the propaganda around biofuels, billed as clean and green, but really just another excuse to clearcut forests. Matera says that burning green trees is 50% more carbon polluting than burning coal, and has a similar impact on air quality. He warns people to critically examine claims of energy sustainability, usually heavily based on this habitat destruction and pollution even worse than coal.

Perhaps most surprisingly for many listeners, Jensen and Matera reveal big green NGOs such as The Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, and The Nature Conservancy as more of a problem than a help. Time and time again, grassroots activists have clashed with such NGOs backing environmentally destructive practices like biofuels via deforesting. Jensen and Matera discuss the dynamics and details of this serious obstacle to environmentalism.

Listen to this free ranging discussion below, play the interview at the Deep Green Resistance Youtube Channel, or visit Massachusetts Forest Watch. And please share this interview with friends and family to promote a better understanding of what the hype around biofuels really means for the earth.

Download mp3

Browse all of Derrick Jensen’s Resistance Radio episodes.

Derrick Jensen’s Resistance Radio on youtube and archive page

Almost every Sunday, Derrick Jensen interviews an activist, biophile scientist, land restorationist, or other person similarly engaged in building a culture of resistance. The interviews are always worth listening to, packed with interesting information and insights drawn out by Jensen’s experienced questions.

The interviews are available as mp3 downloads or audio streams from our Resistance Radio archive page, and we’ve now made them available on Youtube as audio with a still image of the interviewee, accessible to those who prefer to browse Youtube or want to add the episodes into playlists. We’ll keep adding new interviews as they’re released. See them all at the Deep Green Resistance Youtube channel, and please share these important conversations widely!