For years, settlers and soldiers have set fire to and uprooted trees and attacked Palestinian olive harvesters in an attempt to further sever the people from their land. The olive trees are more than just a source of income, and indeed survival, for Palestinian farmers. They represent tradition and a culture of mutualism, and are a symbol of both life and struggle. It’s perhaps both ironic and apt that olive branches are also a symbol of peace. Talaat Abu Jiyab, a Palestinian farmer in Gaza, told Middle East Today back in 2021 that, “Whether we are in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the border areas or far from the border areas, we consider this tree like one of our children.”
Award-winning producer, activist and artist Eleanor Goldfield has a new documentary out, To The Trees, about forest defense in the Redwood Forests of Northern California. Beautifully filmed and composed, Goldfield shows the decimation of our old-growth forests and efforts to stop this crime while placing the struggle in the broader context of colonialism and capitalism. Clearing the FOG speaks with Goldfield about how she connected with forest defenders, the experience of making the film and what we can all do to protect our last remaining Redwoods, the giants of carbon sequestration. Aptly named, To The Trees will inspire you to embrace and protect our forests.
In the breathtakingly beautiful redwood forests of Northern California, a battle is being waged – a battle that is part of the larger war against corporate greed and extraction. Tree-sitters, forest advocates, and Indigenous peoples are working to protect, reclaim and manage the remaining 2% of old growth redwood forests, as well as second-growth areas that are beginning to become nurturing ecosystems again. But it's an uphill battle in every sense of the word. Green Diamond owns some 400,000 acres of land in Northern California, tucked away on private lands behind sparse beauty screens and an eco-groovy public image. Tree-sitters protect what they can where they can, tying trees together to multiply their efforts.
Rising sea levels, accelerated coastal erosion, severe flooding and drought, rapid melting of Arctic sea ice and more frequent and intense wildfires are all symptoms of climate change that are changing our planet’s landscape. In some places, these changes are happening too fast for plants and animals to keep up. A recent study by researchers at University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), and the United States Forest Service have uncovered warning signs that forests in the Western U.S. are struggling to adapt to the rapidly changing climate. “If you’re concerned about forest health then one thing you want to observe is whether the rate at which forest composition changes is roughly equivalent to the rate at which the climate changes,” said lead author of the study Kyle Rosenblad
This morning, community members organizing with Cascadia Forest Defenders hung a 30 foot-wide banner across Highway 126 in the Willamette National forest in opposition to the proposed Flat Country old growth timber sale. The organizers are calling on the Willamette National Forest and the Biden Administration to drop the proposed timber sale in light of the significant impacts that it would have on the climate, drinking water, and community safety. The action comes less than six months after President Biden signed Executive Order 14072 on Strengthening the Nation’s Forests, Communities, and Local Economies, which directs his administration to create stronger protections for public forests in an effort to mitigate the climate crisis, and only weeks after environmental groups sent the Forest Service an ultimatum to reconsider the sale.
In Atlanta, Georgia, the city government intends to destroy large swaths of what remains of the South River Forest—also known by the Muskogee name for the river, Weelaunee. In place of one stretch of woods, they aim to build a police training compound; they have sold the neighboring part to Blackhall Studios executive Ryan Millsap, who intends to build a giant soundstage. Yet for more than a year now, activists have protected the forest against their plans. In a previous article, we chronicled how this campaign got started and the strategies that have driven it; in the following collection of narratives, participants in the movement describe their experiences and explain what makes this fight meaningful to them.
Over the course of the twenty-first century, Paris’s average summer temperature is expected to rise as much as 5.3°C (9.5°F) (or as little as 1°C [1.8°F]) and the number of days per year with temperatures higher than 30°C (86°F) could increase to forty-five days from the current average of ten days.4 Rising temperatures will come with more frequent and extreme storms, flooding, and drought. A 30 percent reduction in the flow of the Seine River is expected by 2080; along with the Marne River southeast of Paris, the Seine provides nearly half of the city’s drinking water.5 Ironically, the river also poses increasing flood risks as climate change increases the likelihood of extreme precipitation events. Paris is not alone.
Los Angeles - The descendants of Native American tribes on the Northern California coast are reclaiming a bit of their heritage that includes ancient redwoods that have stood since their ancestors walked the land. Save the Redwoods League planned to announce Tuesday that it is transferring more than 500 acres (202 hectares) on the Lost Coast to the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council. The group of 10 tribes that have inhabited the area for thousands of years will be responsible for protecting the land dubbed Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ, or “Fish Run Place,” in the Sinkyone language. Priscilla Hunter, chairwoman of the Sinkyone Council, said it’s fitting they will be caretakers of the land where her people were removed or forced to flee before the forest was largely stripped for timber.
The advertisements are for Shell Canada’s Drive Carbon Neutral program, which launched in November 2020. A company press release said from Dec. 31, 2020 onwards, customers at its pumps can contribute two cents per litre to various carbon offset projects. That program and its claims of carbon neutrality will be challenged Wednesday when environmental group Greenpeace is set to file a complaint to the Competition Bureau of Canada. The group argues the Drive Carbon Neutral program is greenwashing and is therefore tricking customers into participating in an initiative with false claims, which it says goes against the Competition Act: a federal law governing the majority of business conduct in the country.
This week, forest defenders are succeeding in slowing tree clearing using their bodies to protect sensitive and rare forest habitats from aggressive tree clearing from PG&E contractors in constant cold rain and wind. On Wednesday, October 19, supervisors from PG&E and arborists from Wright Tree Service Company put concerned park visitors at risk of serious injury by continuing cutting and dropping of tree sections in close proximity to where the visitors stood in civil disobedience to impede the cutting. The forest being cut lies within Humboldt Redwoods State Park. This area is under the jurisdiction of the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria according to a 2020 MOU with the State of California.
Jamie Hunter has just returned from defying a court injunction to protect old-growth forest in Fairy Creek and is going to Glasgow next month to push for a major change to international law that would provide another tool against environmental degradation. The 21-year-old from Nelson, B.C., sees the actions as two fronts of the same battle to confront forces otherwise damaging the planet and imperiling its inhabitants. “To me, Stop Ecocide is a really tangible solution,” said the co-founder of its Canadian chapter. “Obviously, it’s not the only solution, but it’s a big piece of the puzzle because it really says that causing this damage to the environment is not OK.” Stop Ecocide is a global movement involving international criminal lawyers, Indigenous advisers, researchers, and diplomats working to add ecocide as a crime considered by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The NDP government can’t keep dodging responsibility for the debacle at Fairy Creek — or the much bigger questions about the RCMP’s role in the province. Especially as increasing RCMP resources — with provincial government approval — are devoted to shutting down protests, frequently by Indigenous people. Last week, the BC Supreme Court refused to extend an injunction against protesters blocking logging, citing RCMP civil rights’ abuses — facilitated by the provincial government — in enforcing the court order. The dispute is about old-growth forests on southern Vancouver Island. Protesters blocked licence-holder Teal-Jones from logging in late 2020. On April 1, BC Supreme Justice Frits Verhoeven granted the company an injunction preventing the protesters from blocking roads or interfering with company operations.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge has refused to extend an injunction that was granted to prevent protesters from impeding logging operations at Fairy Creek on Vancouver Island. Justice Douglas Thompson ruled the reputation of the court outweighed the economic interests of the logging company, Teal Jones. Thompson pointed to the RCMP’s enforcement of the court injunction as the main reason for the court’s tarnished reputation. “The methods of enforcement of the court’s order have led to serious and substantial infringement of civil liberties, including impairment of the freedom of the press to a marked degree,” wrote the judge. One of the lawyers who argued against extending the injunction, Patrick Canning, said the ruling puts pressure on the province to resolve the ongoing dispute at Fairy Creek.
On Aug. 9, the one-year anniversary of the Fairy Creek protection efforts, the RCMP raided Fairy Creek's headquarter camp. Twenty-five police vehicles, a helicopter and an emergency tactical unit were deployed against peaceful ancient forest protectors that day, and almost every day since. What is the emergency that the police are responding to with such a massively expensive show of force? Since the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a code red warning on Aug. 9, is it the climate emergency that is so clear to us this summer with deadly heat waves and extreme forest fires? No, the science tells us that RCMP are actually making this climate emergency worse by enforcing the clear cutting of some of the last remaining old-growth forests on the West Coast.
Splatsin First Nation Kukpi7 Wayne Christian knows the migration patterns of the last remaining southern mountain caribou in his territory in southeast B.C. — they spend their winters up in the mountains. He knows the way that water travels from glaciers to the region’s streams and back again. He knows what the region’s forests look like when they’re healthy. Last month, he saw something he’d never seen before. The shiny green leaves of the cottonwood trees that make up part of the forest’s understory had turned a dull, parched grey — almost dead. “I was thinking, what’s going on here? There is a signal here. Pay attention to this.” Christian was on his way to lead a ceremony beneath a cluster of ancient cedar trees, marking the Splatsin Nation’s support for the blockades led by a group called Old Growth Revylution that opposes old-growth logging in the region.