As the days get hotter, the number of Southerners standing up to protect and fight for forests increases steadily: it’s almost as if unrest is in direct proportion to the degrees on a thermometer. Summertime in the South conjures up images of being sleepy and slow-moving; and yet, the opposition to burning forests for fuel is livelier than ever.
IN THE SAME WAY THAT YOU CAN FEEL THE LIGHTNING CHARGE THE AIR DURING A HUGE THUNDERSTORM OVERHEAD, THE MOVEMENT FOR PROTECTING SOUTHERN FORESTS IS ELECTRIC.
We all enjoy forests to the fullest in the summertime. Fathers and daughters dot streams and shorelines, fishing for trout and bass in the cool water. Families and young couples set up camp on the forest floor and string hammocks in the shade. Hiking groups set out looking for berries, mushrooms, and other treasures. The abundance of activity afforded by a forest in the summer is threatened by industrial-scale wood pellet companies which are chopping our forests down at an increasing rate and sending them to Europe.
Southerners are tired of clearcutting.
Southerners are tired of an exploitative and mechanized landscape which misses the forests for the trees and only views these magnificent places as a commodity.
Southerners are tired of shipping our forests overseas for industrial scale electricity.
Southerners are tired of being told that forests are growing now more than ever when, in reality, it’s monoculture pine plantations that are being grown at the expense of our natural forests. In the last 60 years, the US Forest Service shows us that 33 millions acres of natural forests have been lost while plantations have grown from 0 to 40 million acres in that same time period.
THE SHADES CANNOT BE PULLED OVER OUR EYES. And it shows.
With the charge being led by frontline communities facing the impacts of industrial-scale wood pellet biomass facilities in their own backyards, Southerners are making it clear: burning forests for electricity is bad for our quality of life, environment, and economies. Our region can do and must do better. Southerners are mobilizing by the thousands to send this message: holding vigils in Atlanta for the forests we’ve lost, rallying in Charlotte to protest the International Biomass Conference, blocking a wood pellet facility in a rural town in South Carolina, and just last Sunday, dozens of concerned citizens held a spontaneous flashmob at a Pellet Fuels Institute Conference in North Carolina to shame Enviva and Drax for their role in logging and damaging precious forests across the Southern U.S.
Wood pellet companies like Enviva and Drax are recklessly and greedily destroying forest landscapes in the South with a voracious appetite.
While we should be investing in protecting Southern forests for the clean water, carbon storage, wildlife habitat, recreation, quality of life, and many other benefits they provide, Enviva and Drax are selling them off to the highest bidder in the European Union.
These short-sighted corporations are the careless stakeholders of our forests. Standing forests are our best defense against climate change, protect us from storms, and ensure clean water for millions of Americans. Corporations do not respect the long-term value of forests, and are not going to protect our forest treasures in the South.
We, as activists, hunters, hikers, parents, children, and proud Southerners, are the stakeholders that will ensure our forests retain their integrity.
Keep those forest-protection actions coming in hot, y’all.