If you, like me, love Mother Earth and hug a tree from time to time, I’m guessing you’ve been called a hippie at some point in your life.
Yet, the origin of tree-hugging didn’t spring up from the peace-loving generation of the sixties or the later new-age movement. Tree-hugging began as a form of non-violent protest in India in 1730. 294 men and 69 men from the Bishnois branch of Hinduism died trying to protect the trees in their village from being chopped down for use in the construction of a nearby Palace.
These brave men and women were slaughtered by the foresters, as they clung to the trunks in their desperate attempt to stop the trees from being felled. Following the brutal act of the foresters, a royal decree was issued that prohibited the chopping down of trees in any Bishnois village.
Their actions inspired the later Chipko movement (chipko means “to cling” in Hindi) that began in the 1970s. A group of peasant women in a village in the northern Himalayan hills protested the cutting down of trees in their village by clinging to their trunks. This tactic, also known as tree satyagraha, was so effective, that it was adopted all across India, and forced through reforms on tree felling in the Himalayan regions.
Tree-huggers are not hippies, my friends. They are mother-loving rebels.
In the last month, I’ve watched on as a collective of different environmental groups has taken a stand against the construction of a high-speed rail line through my native England. While they prefer the name tree protectors, they continue on the long tradition of non-violent protest by tree-hugging.
Construction of the HS2 line, which will cut through 54kms of ancient forest and woodland, began approximately a month ago to the dismay of local residents and environmentalists alike. Campaigners are concerned that the loss of mature trees and natural habitat will have a devastating impact on local wildlife.
The tree protectors have evolved in their methods of protecting the trees. Instead of hugging trees, they have built camps on the ground and up in the trees, yet they face the same oppressive threat from the powers that be. Eviction notices have been served and they are continually harassed and assaulted by NET (National Eviction Team). Indeed, some members of NET have been suspended after serious assaults on activists.
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This is their last stand, as campaigning to stop planning permission for the line has already failed. Their non-violent protest to protect Mother Earth will be in vain unless we give them our support.
So, if you love Mother Earth, enjoy a wander through the woods or hug a tree from time to time, this could happen in your neck of the woods, one day. Only when we stand together for every square mile of Mother Earth will we have a chance of preventing further destruction of our planet.
You can go visit them at their website HS2 Rebellion or HS2 Rebellion Facebook to read more, donate to their cause or share their posts. Remember, you just might need mother-loving rebels in your town, one day. Go show them your support.
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(c) Samantha Wilson 2020. All Rights Reserved.