NATURE CONSERVATION/ FOREST PROTECTION
The first trees, and thus forests, probably developed around 300 million years ago; they were fern, lycopod and horsetailtrees up to forty metres high. Coniferous trees developed around 270 million years ago and deciduous trees appeared around 100 million years ago.1 Plants form the basis for human life by producing oxygen, food and other elementary resources. The human being, Homo sapiens, has been fossilised for around 300,000 years.2 For much of this time, humans probably lived in close contact with and as part of nature. The settlement of humans about 12,000 years ago, the emergence of colonialism and capitalism about 500 years ago, the resulting industrialisation about 250 years ago and the increasing mechanisation for about 50 years lead to the fact that many ecosystems worldwide, including forests are degrading and a large part of the people no longer live in close contact.
„Forest is not the same at night as it is during the day. In the forest there are rhythms and orientation. Silence and many sounds. Sleeping on trees is uncomfortable but safe. Forest is a source of life. The disappearance of the forest worries me. In the forest there is air, food and water. Being in the forest means being part of it. Being radically connected by roots. Grounding. Outside the forest, I’m still connected by breath.“
„Forest is any area of land covered with forest plants. Forest is also defined as areas cleared or cleared of vegetation, forest roads, forest division and protection strips, forest plots and clearings, forest meadows, wild grazing areas, timber stockyards and other areas associated with and serving the forest“.
This is the definition of forest from the current german Federal Forest Act, also known as the Act on the Conservation of Forests and Promotion of Forestry according to paragraph two, section one. This definition shows that the use by humans is in the foreground and the feeling of a service relationship arises.
Also in the associations mentioned before from our individual Black, Indigenous and of Colour Perspectives (BIPoC) the forest is a source of air, food, water and protection. What interdependencies can there be between forest and human? And does this division actually make sense? We are trying to decolonize our self-conception of forests and look at them in ecosystem relations.
Colonialism introduced the ideas of segregation, of BIPoC and white, of nature and human and many other dualisms to ensure the exploitation of the „other“. Colonization was usually accompanied by deforestation and degradation of ecosystems. The natural forests had to be „tamed“ and removed in order to introduce proper monocultures that would bring profit to Europe. To this end, the colonizers established plantations on which BIPoC are still cultivating coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar cane, cotton, etc. for no-wage/no-chewing wages and confirming Malcolm X’s „You can’t have capitalism without racism.
In West African countries, the proportion of intact forests has fallen by up to 93%. 4 Ghana, for example, is one of the countries with the highest deforestation rates worldwide.5 This is due to the fact that Ghana is number two in the production of cocoa for the world market. Cocoa is a plant that was introduced during the colonial period, but the greatest deforestation spurt occurred between the 1980s and today6, clearly reflecting neo-colonial structures. Fiber extraction for paper, mining of fossil fuels and other resources, urbanization, firewood and timber production also play important roles in forest loss.
Globally, however, the main causes of deforestation today are factory farming and industrial agriculture, including palm oil cultivation. Intensive animal husbandry in Germany results in slashand-burn agriculture and land theft, i.e. expropriation of indigenous groups. In terms of area, Brazil is currently one of the most affected places by deforestation for animal products, and soya feedstuffs are exported worldwide for factory farming. This consumes fossil fuels. This economy, in turn, results in immense methane emissions due to the excretion of animals. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is much more harmful to the climate than CO2. If all the emissions from animal husbandry and agriculture are added together, this should account for about half of all emissions and thus contribute enormously to climate change and thus to the climate crisis!
Process suggestions/ solutions / utopias
A collective approach would therefore be to switch to a predominantly plant-based and organic agriculture and nutrition. We do not need and do not want meat, milk, palm oil and white paper all at the expense of the rainforest and BIPoC/ siblings*/ community. We know that forests where indigenous people still live today are the most intact and have high biodiversity. We think that technical solutions like geoengineering are not an adequate solution in the environmental and climate crisis.
Forest and nature conservation means first and foremost self-protection. As long as we exist we are in some way part of the (eco) system. Ecosystems can eventually recover and redevelop after the extinction of species, including human species, as has been the case for about 300 million years. So now it is especially important to preserve the different bases of life in a fair way and to think a bout as many and above all structurally marginalized perspectives as possible.
One of our great role models is Wangari Maathai. In Kenya, she has been campaigning against deforestation since the 1970s, long before activists from the Hambach Forest became known in Germany. She founded the Green Belt Movement, which still exists today.7The movement consists mainly of women’s cooperatives and over 50 million trees have been planted. She has also fought for political prisoners and women’s rights, at academic, political and direct action levels. Wangari Maathai is a really good example of intersectional activism!
• Land restitution and reparations for renaturation in colonized areas
• Everywhere forest conversion from forest plantations to species-rich natural forests
• Strict implementation of forest/nature conservation measures in terms of indigenous knowledge systems
• Abolish soya feed and factory farming, therefore plant-based food
• less paper consumption, if then recycled paper
• Drastically reduce palm oil, less consumption of biodiesel/energy
• Transformation of agriculture from monocultures to agroforestry systems, 100% organic farming (currently in DE about 10% organic farming)
• reduce (neo)colonial products such as cocoa, coffee, etc. and purchase them from cooperatives, if possible, and at least fairly traded
1 Kuster, H. (2003). Geschichte des Waldes: von der Urzeit bis zurGegenwart. CH Beck, Munchen, 2013
2 Richter, D., Grun, R., Joannes-Boyau, R., Steele, T. E.,Amani, F., Rue, M., … & Hublin, J. J. (2017). The age of the hominin fossils from Jebel lrhoud, Morocco, and the origins of the Middle Stone Age. Nature, 546(7657), 293-296.
3 Bundeswaldgesetz vom 2. Mai 1975 (BGBI. I S. 1037), zuletzt durch Artikel 1 des Gesetzes vom 17. Januar2017 (BGBI. IS. 75) geandert
4 Aleman, J.C., Jarzyna, M.A., & Staver, A. C. (2018). Forest extent and deforestation in tropical Africa since 1900. Nature ecology & evolution, 2(1), 26-33.
5 Asiedu, K. G. (2019) Ghana is losing its rainforest faster than any other country in the world. https://qz.com/africa/1609397/rainforest-in-ghana-dr-congo-brazil-colombia-rapidly
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6 Acheampong, E. 0., Macgregor, C. J., Sloan, S., & Sayer, J. (2019). Deforestation is driven by agricultural expansion in Ghana’s forest reserves. Scientific African, 51 eoo146.
7 Greenbelt Movement Webseite