Last week, on the SOS National Day of Action, individuals across the U.S. sent 50,000 messages to send an SOS to Ed Davey, UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, urging him to Save Our Southern forests. That’s right, 50,000! Across the U.S., 50,000 people expressed their concern about the European policies that continue to drive the destruction and irreparable damage of our magnificent Southern forests. In addition to sending an SOS to EU policymakers, activists, organizations, and concerned citizens shared the SOS message on Facebook and Twitter, reaching more than 400,000 people through social media. We came together to share a message loud and clear: Our forests aren’t fuel!
As so many of us spoke out to stop the devastation of our forests, wood product industries met in Chesapeake, VA, to celebrate forest exports. We responded with an action of our own. Outside of the conference site, we hosted a press conference featuring affected community members Belinda Joyner and Carl Scott, VA landowner and Hollywood director Ron Maxwell, and Dogwood Alliance Campaign Director Adam Macon. We had great media turnout, including a clip on WVEC ABC News 13 in Norfolk, a print story in the Virginian Pilot, a piece in Scientific American, and a piece in E&E. Additionally, SOS blogs were featured by Energy Justice, OHVEC, and Forest Ethics, and Rainforest Rescue and NRDC published newsletter articles about the event. And, our event is highlighted in a short feature film found HERE.
Following the press conference, concerned community members joined us as we boarded a boat showcasing our 16-foot SOS banner and traveled down the river to where conference attendees were touring the Enviva export facility. As the tour walked out, our team was there to send a message that our forests aren’t fuel. “The communities of the Southern U.S. have had enough of the plunder of their forests”, one rally participant told the tour. We chanted, “Biomass has got to go”, as the guide attempted to continue his tour. Seemingly more interested in our demonstration than in the Enviva tour, several participants turned to watch us, waving and taking photos. Eventually, the tour concluded and wound back out of sight, and our group ended the day with a celebration of Southern forests and a great day of action.
We know our forests aren’t fuel. We refuse to sit by and watch as our forests, our climate, and our communities are sacrificed to this destructive industry. That’s why we’re calling on EU policymakers to lead the way towards smarter and truly renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. And with almost 50,000 of us ringing the alarm, our emails are sure to be on the minds of climate and energy legislators as they meet to rethink climate policies in 2015.