Hambach Forest (German: Hambacher Wald, Hambacher Forst, Bürgewald, Die Bürge) is an ancient forest located in North Rhine-Westphalia, western Germany, near Buir between Cologne and Aachen. The forest is nearly 12,000 years old, rich in biodiversity and home to 142 species regarded as important for conservation. Only ten percent of Hambach Forest still remains, and the remaining forest is severely threatened by mining for brown coal. (source: Wikipedia)
The past weeks I’ve witnessed something overwhelming which has changed my view on the importance of using my voice.
The first time I set foot on the remaining Hambacher forest was this year in March. It was an interesting experience to get to know some of the people who lived in tree houses in order to safe the forest.
RWE has plans to cut down the majority of the forest, located close to Aachen, which activists have been fighting for years to save, with many holding out in fortress-style treehouses. In recent weeks tensions have heightened as thousands of protesters and police have confronted each other in lengthy standoffs and scores of treehouses have been destroyed. In one confrontation a journalist died after falling from a treehouse. (source: The Guardian)
Still, it felt to me like it won’t change anything about the situation. I thought, the energy company RWE will definitely cut down all the trees for coal. Honestly, some days the resistance against RWE even felt pointless to me.
However, the past four weeks showed that it DOES matter to stand up for something. Something that is important to us. Something that changes our or even other people’s mindset. Something that creates solidarity.
On 5 October 2018 the Higher Administrative Court (German: Oberverwaltungsgericht (de)) of Münster ruled that the clearance of Hambach Forest by RWE has to stop immediately until evidence brought by BUND can be evaluated. (source: Wikipedia)
Please people, please use your voice! 🗣
About 50,000 demonstrators gathered in the forest for peaceful protests at the weekend, calling for it to be saved, and for the government to outlaw lignite, which is also known as brown coal, as an energy source and to accelerate its plans to phase out the country’s dependence on coal.
Last Friday a regional court in Münster temporarily ordered RWE to stop felling the forest.
Conservationists have urged a rethink of the country’s energy strategy, pointing out that energy companies are making huge profits – from an estimated €1.8bn in revenue – by exporting about 80 terawatts of energy to neighbouring countries. (source: The Guardian)
We live in a privileged society in which we are able to use our words and take actions to change something. Use your voice to get attention and people might follow you and you might reach a point where about 50,000 people come together and create a community to demonstrate with the same intention.
It’s not on the politicians, it’s not on the big companies, it’s not on other people. It’s on you and it’s so, so important to remain true to yourself and to what you stand for.
And I’m not saying I agree on everything that happened between the activists and the police. I’m not justifying anything.
However, this situation has shown us that change is possible. The only thing that we have to be mindful of is our own behavior. Towards other people, towards our environment and towards us. Be respectful, get informed about what’s going on, educate yourself on topics that really matter (not on Kim Kardashian’s new ass), try to find sustainable alternatives/substitutes, be more open to change, communicate (we’re not meant to be a loner), act responsibly, change your energy operator 🙂 (to strengthen the importance of sustainable energy production), and finally empower yourself, but don’t be too hard on yourself. We’re all humans and trying is already a step forward.
Some impressions of today’s walk through the forest after the removal of all tree houses: