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From 19th to 23rd November: Reoccupying the forest !

Wednesday 21 November 2012

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

A small group of us have been occupying the Rohanne Forest in the centre of the ZAD for the last two years. It is primarily wetlands with pines chestnuts and oaks, some of which are over a hundred years old. We often see deer wandering around the cabins, step carefully over countless stunning yellow and black fire salamanders on wet evenings, and listen to owl choruses every night. It is a small forest full of life and variety and it’s under threat. On Thursday October 18th the police came with bulldozers and tore down our beautiful three storey collective house. With more destruction and evictions around us many of us dedicated energy to building a new collective cabin and strengthening defenses in the forest . The police returned late in the afternoon of Tuesday October 30th, and again early in the morning of Wednesday October 31st to destroy the nine high tree houses including the two new communal platforms. Around fifty policemen surrounded the two cherry pickers which the ‘specialist climbers’ used to enter into the tree houses and drag out their occupants. This was done very violently in several cases. The first two trees to be evicted were immediately cut down to destroy the cabins. Because of this, people in the remaining tree houses climbed out of their houses and up higher into the trees to save them from being cut. Apparently unable to take the people down from the trees they left them there and used the machines to destroy the houses beneath them. This tactic saved the trees but was extremely frightening and dangerous for the people high up, between fifteen and seventeen metres. The trees shook a lot as the machines crashed into the branches, and we felt no reassurance as the workers seemed to in their have little concern for safety. One of the policeman even managed to fall himself from one of the platforms and cause himself serious injury. They seemed determined above all to complete the destruction as fast as possible and we have seen their terrifying capacity to use violence and machines to take apart what we build. Not wanting to feel beaten we immediately built a new cabin on the ground to be able to stay in the forest again. On Monday 5th November we were visited by around thirty police who evicted the six people sleeping inside and destroyed the cabin, slashed mattresses and stamped on our bikes. To get to the cabin they also felled two or three more trees and brought the bulldozer again. These experiences have made us angry and even more determined to rebuild higher, stronger and better defenses. We have discovered an amazing amount of support and the day after the evictions there were already many people helping to take new materials into the forest to start rebuilding. The whole Rohanne Forest is due to be cut down over winter, and we have no time to lose to build and plan ways to avoid this from happening. After the big reoccupation demo on the 17th November we would like to invite as many people as possible to come to a skill share and working week starting Monday 19th November to build a big high communal platform. We have learnt that we really need a lot of people to be able to go back and rebuild. We feel full of energy and support but we cannot continue this alone! We offer to help people learn to climb, use ropes, lash and build in the trees in return for help building and defending. It is important to be aware that we currently have no remaining structures, and the week is likely to be cold wet and muddy so it is important to come prepared! We have already started work on a sleeping area and will do what we can to make it livable but it is important to try and be autonomous with tents and warm and waterproof clothes. We welcome materials, skills like climbing, building and perhaps massage. Above all we need your energy and ideas to help us find ways defend this forest from being cut down to make way for another useless airport.

a documentary about the forest made by its inhabitants can be seen here