Not fighting for nature, but nature fighting back: Okupying trees in the ZAD of Roybon

The okupation of forests, river valleys, peasant farm lands through the constitution of autonomous, self-managed self-defense communities, as resistance to capitalist infrastructure development, have become emblematic of france’s ZADs.  If the ZADS of Notre-Dames-des-Landes and Testet call forth memories of older struggles such as Larzac, or the more recent No-Tav movements in italy and elsewhere, there is in their nature something more radical that takes them beyond simple environmental or ecological movements that seek to preserve “nature” against technology or development.  At the heart of the ZADs are autonomous, horizontal collectives and the rejection of a set of binaries that so often haunt environmental politics: nature/culture, country side/city, primitivism/development and the like.  They are not self-perceived as okupations to defend nature, but an expression of “natural” life against capital that can only exists through the expropriation and destruction of all that lives.  In the “state of exception” that reduces all of us to bare life, we discover all that ties us, that reveals our relations, to living nature.  The ZADs then are grains of sand in the circulation of capital, islands of resistance that can resonate across heterogeneous territories of uneven economic and technological development-exploitation; they are spaces of a future now.

The construction of a private eco-tourist park in the forest of Chambaran, in the municipality of Roybon, near Grenoble in France, has been the site of a ZAD (zone à défendre – Roybon) since the end of 2014 in opposition to the planned appropriation.  The project, conceived of in 2008, in typical “green” capitalist fashion, proposes the construction of a thousand cottages, some 3.5 hectares of leisure structures, as aqua park where the water will be maintained at 29 degrees, bowling, a sports hall, shopping centre and night club.  In an essentially arid zone, the hydraulic stress will be the equivalent to that of a city of 8000 inhabitants.  Two hundred hectares of forest are threatened, along protected species of animals.  And all of this for the cost of 36.5 million euros in public money, the sum given by local authorities to support the project, along with a below a market value in the sale of the public lands to the group Pierre & Vacances, and with no public debate.

A video documentary of the Roybon ZAD, in french …

From Rennes TV, the documentary Notre-Dames-des-Landes: La Revolution Verte, in french …


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