When did the first radical ecology actions date?

When did the first radical ecology actions date?

A group of young men advance into this corner of the Fontainebleau forest (Seine-et-Marne). Carefully, they uproot all the recently planted young Scots pines. Their goal ? Denounce the clear felling and the disastrous management of this wooded area by state services, more concerned with producing wood than preserving these precious natural ecosystems.

Does the story seem recent to you? Make no mistake: we are in 1840, when, following the media campaign led by the painter Théodore Rousseau, the mobilization against the destruction of this natural heritage gained momentum. Ten years later, hundreds of hectares will finally be protected.

“Yes, it must be remembered: there have already been many radical actions in the past,” underlines Jean-Pierre Raffin, former environmentalist MEP between 1991 and 1994 and true memory of the environmentalist movement in France. Examples ? Occupation of the construction site of the Gard nuclear plant at Marcoule (1958), mass demonstration in Erdeven (Morbihan) against the nuclear power plant project (1975), defense of the wild Loire and against the Serre-de-la-Fare dam ( Haute-Loire) in 1991, mowing of fields of GMO plants at the end of the 2000s, etc. » The social changes of the end of the 1960s were at the origin of a hardening of the actions of activists.

From “eco-warriors” to the ZAD

At the time, France launched its hydroelectric and nuclear industrial programs. Enough to make many naturalists and activists in the field jump who see the price to pay in terms of pollution and destruction of natural areas.

At the end of the 1980s, in the United States, the Earth First! goes even further: its activists describe themselves as “eco-warriors” ready to do battle with dangerous or destructive construction sites. The Sea Shepherd association, founded by Paul Watson, was born with this same intention, embarking on risky actions to fight against huge factory ships carrying out illegal fishing.

In recent years, a new generation has taken up the torch, particularly in the many “zones to defend” (ZAD) in France. There we find an explosive mixture of non-violent activists and disobedient activists ready, some, to oppose with all their strength projects deemed dangerous, useless or incompatible with climate emergencies. The memory of Vital Michalon and Rémi Fraisse, both killed during demonstrations – the first in 1977, the second in 2014 – remains in everyone’s minds.

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