About 300 people took the streets on Saturday to protest against deforestation of the Osterholz forest in the Vohwinkel district in Wuppertal (German territory). The Osterholz Bleibt movement is still very young, but is getting stronger and stronger. A reportback.
Published by Enough 14. Written by Riot Turtle.
The Oetelshofen company wants to cut another 5 hectare in the Osterholz forest. This time the chalk-pit operater says it needs more space to enlarge their spoil pile (a nice word for waste dump). Oetelshofen started their chalk-pit operations in 1937, since then large parts of the forest were destroyed by the company.
About half an hour before the opening gathering of the demo started, first people arrived. After the forest walks on June 30 and July 7, the demonstration was the third mobilization to protest against uprootings in the Osterholz forest.
On June 30 about 70 people joined the first forest walk. One week later about 250 people protested in the forest. On Saturday numbers rose to 300, in the middle of the holiday season in the German state Northrhine Westphalia. During the opening gathering a speaker spoke about the connection between Oetelshofen and RWE, the corporation that is operating the open pit mines in the Rhineland region. The Hambach open pit mine is a threat for the Hambacher forest.
The speech about the connection between Oetelshofen and RWE:
“While RWE is moving ever closer to the Hambacher Forest and the first trees have already fallen, the Wuppertal-based company Oetelshofen is supplying a large part of the lime mined in the Osterholz limestone quarry to the RWE lignite industry in the Rhineland. After all the previous clearings in the Osterholzer Wald, the Oetelshofen company now wants to clear five more hectares of forest in the Osterholz.
The next five hectares of forest to be harvested in the Osterholz forest will not even be cleared for lime production, but for waste! According to Oetelshofen there was less lime in the soil than an expert opinion had wrongly predicted before the last enlargement of the limestone quarry in Osterholz. Thus some things were taken out of the ground, which Thyssenkrupp, RWE and other lime buyers of the company Oetelshofen do not want to have. For this reason, another five hectares of forest are now to be uprooted. Oetelshofen would like to replace this piece of forest on the city limits of Haan and Wuppertal with a so-called “Abhalderaum” (waste disposal site) in order to store, as the Oetelshofen company euphemistically calls it, “unusable material”.
Oetelshofen supplies lime for the desulphurisation plants of RWE’s lignite-fired power plants in the Rhineland. Of course, Oetelshofen argues that this reduces the emission of toxic smoke from lignite-fired power plants. What Oetelshofen doesn’t say is that the lignite-fired power plants in the Rhineland still produce the largest nitrogen dioxide cloud in Europe and that the desulphurisation plants make RWE power plants eligible for state authorisation.
RWE also uses lime in lignite opencast mining in the Rhineland. Lime is used together with power plant ash as an acid buffer to minimize the steady flow of pollutants into the subsoil. But while RWE is trying to wash away its moral environmental crimes, BUND writes that in the end these measures could only lead to a reduction of pyrite weathering by about four percent in absolute terms. This means that a relative minimisation of the acidification of groundwater of a maximum of one third can be achieved, i.e. two thirds of the acidification potential remains.
Oetelshofen pats itself on the shoulders and repeatedly emphasises what its lime does for the environment. That’s more than cynical. To make the extracted lime usable at all, the stored CO2 must first be released from the raw limestone. This happens in the lime kilns so that so-called quicklime is produced. In 2018, Oetelshofen emitted 243,000 tons of CO2. In addition, the supply of lime to companies such as RWE and Thyssenkrupp has added tons of CO2 to the atmosphere. Lime burning is comparatively as “dirty” as electricity from lignite. The industrial process accounts for only two-thirds to three-quarters of total emissions from lime production. The “rest” comes from the fossil fuels used. Oetelhofen’s lime kilns VII and VIII only received permission a few years ago to be fired with lignite, among other fuels.
While gigantic amounts of CO2 continue to be emitted, forests such as the Hambacher forest and the Osterholz forest are threatened by deforestation, even though they store a huge amount of CO2. But we will do everything we can to prevent these deforestations! The destruction of habitats for many plants, trees and animal species must come to an end here and now!
Climate protection remains handiwork!”
After this speech there was a speech by a local resident, who said that she played a lot in the Osterholz forest as a child. “More and more space to play in nature are dissapearing. We have to stop that.” Shortly after 01:30pm the demo started marching in the rain. But the mood was good. People chanting “There is no right to cut the Osterholz forest!”
The demo marched through a part of the Vohwinkel district towards an already exisiting spoil pile of the Oetelshofen chalk-pit in Osterholz.
On July 27 (15:00, 03:00pm) there will be an open meeting in the Enough Info-Café in the Wiesenstrasse 48 in Wuppertal (German territory) to discuss the next steps of the resistance to uproot the Osterholz forest (Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/888396624880115/ )
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