Police evicted protesters Thursday from a vast, old-growth forest in western Germany, where they’ve lived in a community of tree houses for the past six years in protest of a nearby open-pit coal mine.
Thousands of police officers cut down trees in the once-vast Hambach Forest in order to reach the settlement known as “Oaktown,” the New York Times reports. After pulling out some 40 oaks, officers began wrenching protesters from their makeshift homes among the ancient hardwoods, activists said in a statement. Some occupiers locked themselves onto concrete blocks on the floor of their homes to resist eviction; at least a dozen were detained, police say.
“For many of us this is home. Some of us have lived here for years,” an Oaktown activist named Freddy toldthe German Press Agency.
Despite Germany’s public vow to cut down on carbon emissions and phase out coal, the country remains one of the world’s biggest coal producers, according to the World Economic Forum. The energy company RWE has razed 90 percent of the 12,000-year-old forest for the Hambach Mine—the country’s largest brown coal mine at nearly 1,500 feet deep, Fast Company reports—and this effort may fell its final 250 acres. Here are scenes from the forest dwellers’ last stand.