TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - According to Deutsche Welle, a large demonstration against woodland clearance has gone ahead in Germany's Hambach Forest after a ban was lifted. Organizers say that more is at stake than just conserving a nature area.
Thousands gathered in the Hambach Forest near the western German city of Aachen on Saturday to call for the woodland's preservation and for lignite to be finally abandoned as a source of energy in the country.
The protest took place a day after a court in Aachen revoked a ban on the demonstration imposed by police over security concerns. Hundreds of officers have been on duty since the early morning hours.
Demonstrators' spirits have also been lifted after another court ordered that the clearance of the forest be suspended while a lawsuit calling for the area to be conserved as a special bat habitat is being decided.
"There is a cheerful atmosphere because of the clearance ban by the Higher Administrative Court in Münster," said a spokeswoman for the environmental group BUND, which is behind the lawsuit.
Some 20,000 people were expected to join the demonstration during the day but organizers said they thought 50,000 had turned up by mid-Saturday afternoon.
The forest was bought by German utility RWE decades ago to expand lignite mining. Protests were triggered after the company announced plans to clear the forest further as of fall to make way for mine enlargement.
For many people, the Hambach Forest has become a symbol of the struggle between industrial greed and the fight against climate change, with critics of the planned mine extension saying that if the mined lignite is burned, it will make it almost impossible for Germany to meet its' commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement.
At the heart of Europe, in western Germany, near the border to France and Belgium, a scrap of ancient forest holds thousand-year-old trees along with abundant wildlife.
But there's another species living there in the forest as well — our own.
Activists and some politicians have been calling for a suspension of clearing activities until a panel of experts and politicians, known as the coal commission, has come up with a plan for the country to drop its' use of coal for energy in a "socially acceptable" manner.
Energy company RWE said on 21 September that it would continue to remove barricades from the forest, for which it had been criticised since a journalist who documented the protesters’ activities fell to his death from a tree just a few days earlier.
Despite Germany's public vow to cut down on carbon emissions and phase out coal, the country remains one of the world's biggest coal producers, according to the World Economic Forum.
The energy company RWE has razed 90 percent of the 12,000-year-old forest for the Hambach Mine—the country's largest brown coal mine at nearly 1,500 feet deep, Fast Company reports—and this effort may fell its' final 250 acres.
Source: Iran Press