Solidarity saves trees in Cologne

Hambacher Forst

For more than five years, people living on „Bonner Straße“, a major street in the south of Cologne, and the surrounding area are fighting against the planned expansion of the North-South railway line. This expansion includes plans to remodel the street, increasing the car traffic while making the lifes of pedestrians and bikers less safe. Larger emissions of particulate matter in a city which is already constantly on or over the official treshold and an increase of noise pollution will lower the quality of lifes of the locals.


More than 300 trees are slatted to be cut for this expensive plan. The civil initiative tried all different legal ways to preserve the trees but still courts dismissed all their cases. Again we see: in a neoliberal system civil initiatives have no voice. There is no way for a legal interference. With all the major parties supporting the cutting the government opened the doors for right-wing propaganda which pretended to support the unheard voices.


The initiative now moved on to forms of passive resistance and threatened to lock on and blockade the cutting works planned for the months of January and February. For that they asked for our help and we shared knowledge and skills and joined in to their struggle, which was now ours! Together we took a stand for the trees and civil participation and against neoliberalism. Afraid of further escalation the local government now announced that the cuttings will be postponed (and we are determined to make sure they are postponed forever!). Only by standing and fighting together we can determine how we want to live. And to live a good life we will need the trees!