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Dannenrod forest occupation against highway construction, Germany

The forest “Dannenröder Forst” was occupied by environmental activists to protest against its deforestation for the construction of the highway A49.


After decades of protest, in October 2019, the forest “Dannenröder Forst” was occupied by environmental activists. They protest against the partial clearing of the “Danni” and adjacent forests for the further construction of the highway A49, which would connect the cities of Gießen and Kassel (where a road section already exists but currently leads nowhere). 85ha of the ancient forests are projected to be felled in total. 27ha of them are located in the Dannenrod Forest [1]. Activists set up protest camps around the forest, as well as a system of barricades and treehouses. Some of these activist groups were also present in the defence of the Hambach Forest (see EJAtlas case: [7]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Dannenrod forest occupation against highway construction, Germany
State or province:Hesse
Location of conflict:Dannenrod, part of Homberg (Ohm)
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Deforestation
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Around 85 hectares of forest will be cleared, 27 hectares of which will be in the Dannenrod Forest. This is a mixed forest covering a total area approximately 1,000 hectares. Among the trees, several are more than a hundred years old.

Project area:85
Level of Investment:1.300.000.000 EUR (around 1,700,000,000 USD)
Type of populationRural
Company names or state enterprises:Deutsche Einheit Fernstraßenplanungs- und -bau GmbH (DEGES) from Germany - Responsible for the construction and management of the highway project
STRABAG (STRABAG) from Austria
Relevant government actors:Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure – Currently under control of Andreas Scheuer of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU), in the cabinet of Angela Merkel’s (CDU) coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD).

Hessian state government - Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Green Party, led by Minister-President Volker Bouffier.
International and Finance InstitutionsEuropean Investment Bank (EIB) - The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing €264 million to support the construction of a 31 km section of the A49 motorway..
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Wald Statt Asphalt –
Extinction Rebellion –
Ende Gelände -
Fridays for Future –
Aktionsbündnis ‚Keine A49’ -
Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland Hessen (BUND) (Friends oft the Earth Germany) –
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Air pollution, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Violent targeting of activists
Development of alternatives:Many groups demanded a complete stop to the construction of the A49, acknowledgement of the importance of forests for the environment and their role in the fight against the climate crisis as well as a systematic change in German transport and infrastructure policy [1][10]. The proposal of an alternative infrastructure solution by other local activists and citizens was also discussed, in which a better connection for the regions economy would be created, but the forest would remain [18].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The felling of the trees could not be prevented by the activist. Nevertheless, several groups have occupied the area again in recent days to prevent the final preparations for construction in spring 2021. Despite the tragic ecological loss, the activists nevertheless consider it a partial success, as their struggle has generated various forms of resistance and created awareness throughout the country [21].
Sources & Materials

[7] Deutsche Welle - Germany: Police begin clearing forest protesters for autobahn extension, 10.11.2020.
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[1] Deutschlandfunk - Proteste im Dannenröder Forst - Autobahnbau gegen Klimaschutz, 04.12.2020
[click to view]

[8] TAZ - Aktivist*innen attackieren Grüne, 28. 10. 2020
[click to view]

[2] BUND - Klimaerhitzung verursacht Waldsterben – BUND fordert mehr Tempo bei der Energiewende und Schutzmaßnahmen für alte Wälder, 06.11.2020
[click to view]

[3] Oberhesse-live - Grüne nehmen zum Weiterbau der A49 Stellung, 06.11.2019
[click to view]

[15] Frankfurter Rundschau - Heimatlos im Dannenröder Forst: Lage wird immer prekärer - „Was hier passiert ist eine Schande“.
[click to view]

[17] Hessenschau - Ausgleichsflächen für umstrittene Autobahn - Hier wachsen Bäume für den Wald, der für die A49 verschwindet, 09.02.2020
[click to view]

[4] BUND - Chronik der A 49.
[click to view]

[12] Frankfurter Rundschau - A49-Protest im Dannenröder Forst: Polizei untersagt Schneeballwürfe und setzt Wasserwerfer ein, 05.12.2020.
[click to view]

[13] Die Zeit - Umweltschützer demonstrieren in Berlin gegen A49 in Hessen, 21.10.2020
[click to view]

[14] Mittelhessen - Proteste gegen Weiterbau der Autobahn 49 bleiben friedlich, 4.10.2020.
[click to view]

[20] Dannenrod Forest Occupation: Call for support from Danni! 30.11.2020
[click to view]

[21] Hessenschau - Einige A49-Gegner sind wieder im Wald, 08.01.2021.
[click to view]

[5] Tagesschau- Grüne und der Dannenröder Forst - Der Preis des Regierens, 13.10.2020.
[click to view]

[6] Hessenschau - Dannenröder Forst: Darum geht es im Konflikt um die A49, 01.10.20.
[click to view]

[11] DW - Germany: Water cannon fired at Dannenröder forest activists, 05.12.2020.
[click to view]

[16] Frankfurter Rundschau - A49-Gegner in U-Haft: Staatsanwaltschaft sieht Fluchtgefahr nach Abseil-Aktionen, 27.10.2020.
[click to view]

[22] Bund Hessen - Friends of the Earth Germany. Chronik der A 49
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[10] Newsblog Dannenröder Wald retten!
[click to view]

[18] STOPPA49 - Stoppt die A49, stoppt die Rodung der Wälder!
[click to view]

[19] Koala Kollektiv - Solidarity with the Dannenröder forest occupation
[click to view]

Der Spiegel - Radikale Umweltschützer: Der Kampf um den Dannenröder Forst
[click to view] - Protest gegen A49-Ausbau: Carola Rackete im Interview
[click to view]

Tagesschau - Ausbau der A49 in Hessen: Proteste gegen Rodung von Waldgebiet
[click to view]

Euronews - Forest protesters arrested in Germany
[click to view]

[9] Wald statt Asphalt - Blog Besetzung Dannenröder Wald
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Luca Scheunpflug - EJAtlas Intern
Last update11/01/2021
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