Last update:

Hambach forest occupation against brown coal mining, Germany


The Hambach forest, located in Rhineland, Germany, has been one of the few remaining old growth forests in Germany. It has also been a concession area for the expansion of one of Germany’s largest brown coal open cast mines, operated by the RWE Power AG Company. Since 2012, environmental activists have been occupying the forest to avoid further deforestation as well as CO2 emissions driving climate change (1).

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Hambach forest occupation against brown coal mining, Germany
State or province:Nordrhein-Westfalen
Location of conflict:Hambach
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Coal extraction and processing
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Construction work started on October 15, 1978 (2).

See more
Project area:8,500
Level of Investment for the conflictive projectunknown
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:5,200 person displaced (plus negative health impacts on surrounding villages)
Start of the conflict:15/10/1978
Company names or state enterprises:RWE power (RWE) from Germany
Kötter Security from Germany - private security, services
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Aktionsgemeinschaft der Bürgerinitiativen gegen die Verlegung der A 4;
Hambacher forst occupation movement;
BUND (friend of the earth Germany);
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Other Health impacts
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Other Health impactsdrastic decrease in air quality, exposure to heavy metals
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Proposal and development of alternatives:Activists demanded the conservation of the remaining forest area, opposed the realignment of the highway and protested for climate justice and a general stop of coal mining. These alternatives could not be pushed through.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Although the environmental justice actions successfully delayed the project activities and brought large media attention to the issue, the project could not be stopped and is currently ongoing.
Sources & Materials

(5) RWE on the realignment of the highway A4 (accessed 10/04/2015)
[click to view]

(1) Blog from the forest occupation movement (accessed 10/02/2015)
[click to view]

(4) WDR news on recent violence in the Hambach forest (accessed 10/02/2015)
[click to view]

(3) BUND on the Hambach open cast mine (accessed 10/02/2015)
[click to view]

(2) Wikipedia on the Hambach open cast mine (accessed 10/02/2015)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Short video (english) about the Hambach forest occupation
[click to view]

Photos on flickr
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:A. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) arnim.scheidel "at"
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1784
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.