Hambach Forest, Germany under threat. Ecosia offer to save it

Ecosia, the world’s largest non-profit search engine, offers to buy remaining Hambach forest from the energy giant RWE, which plans to fell down most of it, so that it can continue its lignite mining operations.

On October 9 Ecosia put forward an unsolicited one million euro offer for the last remaining 200 hectares of the ancient woodland. The next day, on October 10, RWE officially rejected Ecosia’s offer. On their blog Ecosia writes:

“Our offer to buy the Hambach Forest to turn it into a nature reserve remains active until the end of October. On top of that, we are currently considering a second offer.”

German energy giant RWE bought the land Hambach forest sits on in the 1970s. For the past six years protesters have occupied the area with some of them living in tree house structures. And as RWE prepares to demolish the remaining 200 hectares, which is only 10% of the original forest since RWE started mining in 1978, of the forest protests at Hambach have escalated.

On October 5 German court ordered suspension of the Hambach Forest clearance. The court suspension was put in place following a lawsuit filed by environmental group BUND, Friends of the Earth Germany. In its lawsuit opposing the forest’s clearance, BUND has argued that the area falls under the EU’s Habitats Directive because of its population of Bechstein’s bats.

Ecosia, a Berlin-based search engine, uses profit that they make from searches to support various conservation initiatives and so far has planted more than 40 million trees across the world. Ecosia’s CEO, Christian Kroll, said users had been vocal on the topic of finding a way to permanently save the Hambach Forest. Kroll added:

“We are offering one million euros to RWE to take the fate of this 12,000 year old forest out of limbo land. With their ability to mine for lignite under the remaining stretch of the forest in question, we ask RWE to consider this offer.”

Ecosia’s Tree Planting Officer, Pieter van Midwoud noted:

“Some of the trees are more than 350 years old and the forest is still home to 13 endangered species. Our plan would be to save and promote the Hambach Forest’s biodiversity for future generations, making sure the public has continued access to the ancient woodland.”

Conservationists have urged to rethink the country’s energy strategy writes The Guardian “pointing out that energy companies are making huge profits – from an estimated €1.8bn in revenue – by exporting about 80 terawatts of energy to neighbouring countries.” In Ecosia’s press release Kroll added:

“Last year for the first time, Germany produced more renewable energy than brown coal energy, and this is the direction we need to keep working towards. If we lose the Hambach Forest and RWE continues to expand its lignite mining, Germany will struggle to meet the Paris Climate Agreement goals and a priceless natural wonder will have been lost.”

And while the fate  of the Hambach Forest still hand in the balance, in order to show their support to the ancient woodland Kroll encourages Germans to switch to one of the certified green energy providers.

Baiba Šustere

Baiba Šustere is a writer whose work focuses on mindfulness, health and wellbeing.