Born out of frustration at the failure of road blockades to defend ancient forests for more than an hour or two, tree sitting became an essential part of the Green Anarchist's toolbox. Possibly the hardest form of civil disobedience to break up, relying entirely on the support of a group of well coordinated brothers and sisters. If the site is already set up, you will have no problem getting any information you need, there are usually always experienced climbers willing to give workshops and sometimes lend visitors safety harnesses & ropes, but if they put a lot of time into helping you don't just dash on the second day because they also need your help to defend the trees. If you want to save your own old growth forest get some friends together and read on.
- 1 Where to Set up
- 2 Setting up Camp
- 3 Climbing the tree
- 4 Building your home in the tree
- 5 Living in the tree
- 6 Preventing Extraction
- 6.1 Preparation For An Eviction
- 6.2 During an Eviction
- 6.3 Stashes
- 6.4 Nets
- 6.5 Lock Down
- 6.6 Suspended Platform Cable Lock-Ons
- 6.7 Walkways
- 6.8 Act dangerously
- 6.9 Keeping away climbers
- 6.10 Keeping away the cherry pickers
- 6.10.1 Supporters on the ground
- 6.10.2 Ladders and Poles
- 6.10.3 Dams
- 6.10.4 Roadblocks
- 6.10.5 Tunneling
- 126.96.36.199 Starting Off
- 188.8.131.52 Tunnelling Basics
- 184.108.40.206 Shoring
- 220.127.116.11 Light
- 18.104.22.168 Digging Further
- 22.214.171.124 Air
- 126.96.36.199 Tunnel Doors
- 188.8.131.52 Lock-ons
- 184.108.40.206 Concrete
- 220.127.116.11 Fortifying The Entrance
- 18.104.22.168 Living underground
- 22.214.171.124 Eviction!
- 126.96.36.199 Tools and Equipment
- 188.8.131.52 Eviction Stashes
- 184.108.40.206 Imperial/Metric conversion
- 7 Publicize
- 8 Other Tactics
- 9 List of current tree sits
Where to Set up
Walk the threatened area, with accurate route maps, until you are familiar with the terrain. Don't waste valuable time and resources by setting up in the wrong place! There are many things to look for when choosing your site.
- Trees: It's obviously better to be out of reach of the bailiffs. At 90 to 100 ft most cherry-picker hydraulic platforms become redundant. Therefore trees above this height gain strategic importance.
- Water features: Camps surrounded by water are difficult to get eviction vehicles into. Existing access, such as bridges, are easy to blockade or remove. Water makes flooding the site possible, either before or, more spectacularly, during an eviction!
- Boggy land & marsh: Has similar advantages to water features and may be even better as you can't bridge a marsh.
- Steep slopes: These are good for digging tunnels into, and make their cherry-picking difficult as bulldozers will need first to flatten out a work space.
- Footpaths & rights of way: Makes your access easier. They should need a closure order during eviction.
- Good access: Good for spreading the word, gaining support and getting donations.
- Resources: A site with drinking water and firewood nearby will make life easier.
- Areas most threatened: If you know contractors want to move onto a specific strategic area, for example to set up a compound, get in there first! Priority should be given to occupying ecologically and symbolically important areas. However, don't trash them!
So the best you could hope for would be a tall office block next to a well-loved nature reserve, surrounded by tall trees, on a hill criss-crossed with footpaths, on an island in a bog surrounded by rivers, in an old minefield!
The more camps you set up, the greater the demands for support, supplies and staff. Be realistic about how many camps are set up, and discuss the best strategic approach for the campaign as a whole.
Setting up Camp
Make sure that you don't trash the area you are protecting. Plan ahead to avoid recurring problems and think of all the elements needed for an outdoor existence. Decide where you will put the fire pit, sleeping space, kitchen area, firewood, storage areas and toilets. Mark out paths and stick to them. If it gets really muddy, lay down sawdust, brash or planks.
The fire pit is the natural centre of the camp. Don't cook on fires made from treated wood, i.e. pallets, fence posts or furniture. Never burn elder, laburnum, rhododedron or laurel on open fires the smoke from these is poisonous only use them in efficient, unsmoky wood burners. Seasoned hard woods give off more heat than crappy pine, also, ash and hazel burn green - useful to know if you're living in the middle of a chainsaw massacre.
A billhook or machete is essential for splitting wet kindling very finely, so it will burn. However don't be caught with it in your hand when police storm the camp.
Sleeping space positioned away from the core of the camp will assist peaceful sleep. Warm communal benders with clean bedding, and separate areas for men and women, are essential if you expect people to stay. Benders are cheap, low impact, semi-permanent dwellings. They are made by bending long coppiced hazel poles and tying them together to form a dome or cylinder. Then pull a tarpaulin or plastic sheet over the top. A bender with bed raised from the floor on pallets and a small wood burner can make a comfy and warm home.
Kitchens should be covered and food preparation areas raised well off the ground out of reach of dogs. Kitchens must be kept hygienic; it is a good idea to boil up all utensils several times a week, to reduce bug biomass! Store food in old filing cabinets or strong metal boxes to prevent rodents eating the lot. Store clean, dry bedding and spare clothes somewhere off the ground, covered and dry. Make sure you have a comprehensive first aid kit and a small fire extinguisher, and that everyone knows where they are.
Strangely enough, all protest kitchens always contain the same six items:
- half a sack of green potatoes
- some carrots, a cabbage
- some rice
- some tinned tomatoes
- some red kidney beans which no-one will ever be bothered to cook.
So if you are going to visit a protest camp, don't bring these things. Bring exciting things like vegan cake, pickles, cheese, hummus or filter coffee (essential for night shift).
When you cut yourself, wash the wound in water with a few drops of tea tree or lavender essential oils or commercial disinfectant in and put a bandage on it. A rag boiled for 20 minutes and dried makes a sterile dressing. Cobwebs are good, with natural coagulent and antiseptic properties, but don't get dusty ones with dead bluebottles in. Blackhorn scratches rapidly turn septic so be extra careful with them. Try to discourage people from washing their hands in the washing up water to prevent the spread of impetigo. For nits, get plentiful supplies of chemical death nit lotion or try boiled quassia chips, although they don't work for everyone. Cider vinegar helps loosen the eggs if you can get a Napp comb through your locks; a swift haircut works very well if you can't.
Bergamot, lavender, rosemary, geranium and eucalyptus essential oils all repel further head lice invasions once you have got rid of them, but what with the cider vinegar you do end up smelling like a salad dressing.
Scabies looks like an intensely itchy rash of small red pinprick spots. Most doctors can't diagnose it and it's hell to get rid of. What to do? Immerse yourself in lindane or other nerve poisons? Try alternative therapies, and risk infecting others? I dunno: that's your choice. In the meantime, tell everybody, machine wash all your clothes and bedding and leave in disgrace.
Try Corsodol mouthwash or a few drops of tincture of myrrh for gingivitis, and be careful who you snog.
You will eventually find a few of these around the camp fire. I don't know how they get there, but they do. Protest camps don't really function well as the last post of care-in-the-community. While some nutters are gentle and lovely, if anyone is being genuinely disruptive, threatening or violent then its a very good idea to get together and put them on a train to somewhere else before the pressures they put on the community forces others to leave. This is a particular problem in urban camps or community squats. You may have to refuse to operate an open door policy, otherwise nutters and gangsters end up in the majority, and then you're fucked.
Plenty of meetings and decision making structures ensure that all decisions are communal and camps are non hierarchical. While it is good to get together to hear what everyone has to say, it's also important to stay spontaneous, unstructured and free of rigid bureaucracy.
For keeping cut wood out of the wet to be seasoned. Firewood should always be dead and preferably seasoned for about two years. Elder releases poisonous fumes when burnt. Dead wood in woodlands is full of insects, fungi, mosses and loads of other creatures and is ecologically rich. Always leave rotten wood and some vertically standing dead wood. To avoid damaging the woodland around the camp, ask for donations of untreated firewood (i.e. not painted or varnished).
A shit pit will work temporarily, Compost toilet's are better for enticing guests. Build well away from the kitchen area and water sources. Have a bowl with water and soap for hand washing.
When you've set up your camp, build a post-box near a road, send the camp a letter, and inform the post office in writing that you are there. Use the postcode of the nearest house. A letter to the camp may come in useful in court when fighting eviction orders. The camp should have air horns and whistles to use as an emergency signal if attacked.
Climbing the tree
BE SURE TO READ S.E.R.E#Climbing before negotiating heights! Training, gear, and an experienced partner is invaluable and can avoid nasty broken bones, permanent paralysis, or death from a bad fall!
You have to climb the tree monkey style first to attach a line.
Watch out for dead branches; they won't take your weight. If you have to tread on one then put your foot jammed up right next to the trunk and you should be okay. Then go and get a saw and cut the rest of the limb off to prevent someone else from falling their death. It's also seasoned firewood.
You can tie a load of alpine butterfly knots in a climbing rope and run it down the tree to provide safe clip-on points for clambering about.
Use your feet, not your knees because it gives you more control, and also that way you don't mash your knee joints up and get osteoarthritis.
Once up find a strong, accessible branch. Tie half a figure of eight a few metres from one end of your climbing rope. (If the rope is going to be up for a while, you may want to tape some carpet tightly around the branch to protect the tree).
Wrap the rope once around the tree, then feed it back through the knot. Finish off with a line a half hitches or if you want to be flash, use a fisherman's knot. Tape the ends of the rope together.
Your climbing rope must reach all the way to the ground. If it's too long, tie the excess up in a knot so it doesn't trail in the mud.
Trees without branches
You can shimmy up tree trunks if you hold onto them tightly enough, but this is a cheat method. (These methods only work for trunks which are narrow enough for a person to reach around.)
1. Wrap a long tape around the trunk of the tree and back through itself, then attach it to a small carabiner and clip this onto your main carabiner. 2. Wrap another long tape around and put your foot in it. 3. Stand up. Move the waist loop up. Sit down. Move the foot loop up. 4. If you come to a branch sticking out, wrap a third tape with a carabiner on around the trunk above the branch and clip this onto your main carabiner. Unclip your other waist tape and carry on up.
Building your home in the tree
You will need:
- Polypropylene rope for lashing, at least 4mm thick
- Joists, Pallets or Planks for flooring
- A canvas tarpaulin for a house that will be lived in, or plastic sheeting for a temporary, summer affair.
- Carpet and underlay or flattened carboard boxes for insulation
- Bender poles, that is, coppiced hazel or willow shoots (or any wood that bends) best cut in autumn to avoid damaging the tree.
- Wide gauge bit + brace or sharp chisel.
- Also for winter, a burner (can be welded from a gas bottle) with a length of pipe for chimmney and some aluminium or steel sheeting
- You will also need a long rope for hauling things up, someone on thee ground to help, and a tree.
- 1.Climb the tree. (You cannot see the structure from the ground)
- 2. Find a place where your joists can be tied that is approximately level. Joists may also be suspended using strong 8mm rope to the trunk. Build your treehouse on thick sturdy branches as high as you practically can but not so high you're in the birds nests.
- 3. Lash more joists across. The number needed depends upon the strength of your flooring. Don't forget to melt the ends of the rope with a lighter to prevent fraying.
- 4. Split the pallets and nail the boards across the joists. It is a good idea to tie a length if rope to your saw and hammer then tie them to the tree.
- 5. Drill or chisel hales in the edge of the platform, trim the fat ends of the bender poles to fit the holes
- 6. Now nail in the benderpoles and skillfully weave them into an organic whole or cheat and use string and gaffer's tape.
- 7. Drape the tarpaulin over and tie it on.
- 8. Fit underlay, carpet and the burner. Cut a hole where the stack pipe comes out and fix a piece of aluminium sheeting around the flue. Light the burner regularly to drive out damp. You can put a window in too if you like, funky. Move in.
Tie a large safety net below the platform so you can move around without your harness on, but try to stay tied in when possible.
Finally prepare a cargo line for receiving supplies.
Living in the tree
Remember to tie everything down, there's nothing worse than your dinner of tinned soup rolling off the edge to be collected by loggers below.
Make it homely; lay carpet down, hang up your pots and pans.
Being in the tree and sticking it to the Freddies should be enough of a high for anyone, don't drink, smoke, trip, or get high.
It never hurts to wear a climbing emergency rescue belt with a well anchored safety line attached using a carabiner, especially at night.
Many people use mobile phones to stay in touch and transmit photos, sometimes you will need a nerd friend to solder on a special external antenna to boost the reception, a solar cell or crank generator should power your phone just fine. Have a backup SIM if your first is disconnected for some reason. Have a mission control person who checks in on your condition several times a day and keeps the phone bill paid up. A radio can be useful as a backup to the phone and communication between sits, know that both the phone and radio are probably tapped.
Keep all fire and fuel away from ropes and climbing equipment. Take a fire extinguisher up if you can: one tree sitter learned this after stamping out 3 fires in a day. You're living in a very fire hazardous environment.
Store all of your waste including toilet and lower it to your supporters to dispose of, there is no reason to nasty up the forest under one or two trees with concentrated human waste and trash.
Remember that your tarp cover can be used to collect both rain and dew, having this alternate way to stay hydrated can extend a sit once the freddies put you under siege.
Have plans to ease boredom, books are OK but have a plastic bag for them, musical instruments are better as they can cause despair in the hearts of the loggers, electronic gadgets are prone to excessive wear and require batteries.
Keep a lookout, in federal and state forests you are on public land and you will probably be warned of super-freddie climbers unless it is nighttime. On private land they can close the roads and get away with more so be careful.
Drink enough to pee frequently and avoid bladder infection, especially women. Vegan is a good idea even if you don't keep that way at home, food poisoning from shared meals tainted with bad meat or eggs can wipe out a whole sit, also always wash your hands especially after toilet.
Recycled plastic buckets with good lids protect food and your stuff from rain, bugs, and furry forest friends.
Remember to enjoy it, don't let the politics get in the way of you having an amazing time, this could be the best time of your life.
Protest evictions are a huge experience, the like of which many people never see in the whole of their lives. If the atmosphere is kept as light as possible, it can be an empowering experience. In reality the actions of bailiffs and police, and sometimes fellow protesters, can cause huge amounts of stress and grief. To minimise this, prepare yourselves physically and mentally. Learn from past evictions as we have to be more innovative and inventive each time if we are to successfully resist an eviction.
Preparation For An Eviction
- Communication in a siege situation is difficult. Prepare CBs, mobile phones or even learn / devise a system of sign language or semaphore.
- A place for evicted people to regroup is important for mutual support, licking wounds and planning the next course of action.
- Prepare legal support for arrested people, and arrange Action Observers.
- Observe local roads and newspapers for road closure notices.
- Activities like checking out local tree surgeons, aerial platform hire depots, and Sheriff's offices, could give a tip- off.
- Stash supplies of food, water, bedding, clothes, paper clips, a first aid kit, spare rope, tools and climbing gear.
- Hold trainings, briefings and meetings to share useful past experiences and fears. It may help confidence to discuss and decide your personal limits, before the eviction.
- Consider finding someone prepared to liaise with police and bailiffs over safety issues during the eviction.
- Organise office support and media liaison.
- Have a 24 hour look-out and ensure good route monitoring (see 'route monitoring' in Chapter 8).
- Be especially vigilant at times the Sheriff might expect the camp to be low on numbers (e.g. big actions elsewhere).
- Store valuable personal gear (like musical instruments) somewhere safe.
- Prepare bags and transport for possessions on the big day.
- Double-check your defenses. Make sure that you leave prominent warning signs on any obstacle you build.
The first view of an eviction is likely to be a sea of police and bailiffs in uniform, wearing headgear. Once in riot gear, people seem to be dehumanised, they can't hear you clearly, their vision is impaired and some seem to think they are "Robo-cop".
During an Eviction
During long periods of eviction, actions to prevent their key players (e.g. the undersheriff and specialist climbers) from arriving are well worth considering. Observation of known meeting points, tailing of plant, climbers and tree surgeons each day could provide valuable information. People not at the site of the eviction could do simultaneous solidarity actions, such as occupying the roof of the undersheriff's house, and picketing the bailiffs' hotel all night.
Work out who is going to defend what and make sure that all the defenses are occupied. Positioning during evictions is key. Rather than scattering, support each other and work in teams.
Your personal manner may determine how you are treated. Relating to bailiffs is difficult. The nature of their job is despicable. Protesters have dealt with them in different ways, ranging from hostile contempt to friendly conscience challenging (if you can find their conscience). The more friendly your demeanour, the better you are likely to be treated.
Locking on in pairs with some sort of sound recording equipment can be wise. Look out for one another and record relevant incidents. Record as much as you can, on film, and paper.
- Bumbag or rucksack
- Warm waterproof clothes (if everyone wears similar ones, it makes the police evidence gatherers' job harder).
- Face paints / balaclavas / hoods
- Folding knife (for cutting rope and walkways)
- Food and water
- Spare climbing rope (for escape or to abseil onto a digger / cherry-picker)
- Harness (worn under your clothing) and wrist clip
- Torch or head torch
- thumb cuffs,
- Lighters for fags and stoves
- Bog roll and plastic bags/buckets (you may need to shit whilst up the trees).
Strong cargo nets can be strung between several trees to allow you to move around easily and sit in them during evictions, defending several trees at once. The best form of access is a walkway you can cut during an eviction. However, nets are a sitting target for cherry-pickers. Alternatively, climbers can lower the whole net down.
When the Freddies are ascending and you're stuck feeling nervous and helpless, not wanting to fight and give forest defenders a bad name. Make their evil job that much more difficult and give the tree that extra few hours of life by putting your arms round the tree and into a lockbox. This will also appeal to the public by showing that you are dedicated enough to put your bodies on the line; Lock Boxes are descended from a long heritage of non-violent civil disobedience that many civilians find less threatening than other brands of direct action. See Lock Boxes
Build lock-ons in chimney pots, hollowed out tree stumps, holes in the ground (with buried scaff poles anchoring them in place), in trees, in tunnels, EVERYWHERE. Then try and find people who will commit themselves to being drilled out of them.
The idea is that the evicting bailiffs have to angle grind through the metal, kango hammer through the concrete and then pick out all the other little bits by hand to get to the tube to cut the strap that's attached to your wrist.
Of course, the other way they can get you out is to torture you until you unclip (pepper spray directly to the eyes). They have been known to send a little camera down the tube to check whether you really are handcuffed, and then apply extreme pressure if you are not. Foil this by smearing grease around the inside of the tube and shoving some rags or newspaper down to obscure their view.
Lock-ons should be made weeks ahead of time, as the concrete needs time to go off. Ingredients vary but usually 1 part cement, 6 parts fine, clean sand, and one part clean gravel - 10ml chipping. Get the sand and stone from builder's merchants and wash any other lumps of metal, ceramic, glass or quartz that you chuck in. Mix the dry ingredients for the concrete, then add clean water and keep stirring all the time. Washing up liquid strengthens the mix.
Alternatively you could get some money together and get Readymix to deliver some extra together and get Readymix to deliver some extra tough stuff. why not make all the lock-ons first in someone's garage, using power tools and then turn up, install them and fill with concrete.
Check that the lock-on is comfortable for you, pad the top of the tube. Sort out your stash and keep the tube covered so it doesn't collect water.
Don't lock on until the very last minute and try to go to the loo first. Use your left arm, if you are right handed, and since you are in a vulnerable position, wear a silly outfit and keep it fluffy.
Suspended Platform Cable Lock-Ons
This involves locking onto the thing which is supporting you so you can't be cut free without falling. It consists of a lock-on on a platform suspended by steel cable from a number of trees. To build, pass a long length of steel cable around the back of two groups of trees, crossing it over to form a figure-of-eight, and tension it off tightly enough to support the platform and lock-on. Protect the trees with carpet. The cable is not attached to the trees and is held up by the tension and by the branches it passes over. Have the cable make contact with as few trees as possible.
Build walkways (to be cut before the eviction) to give you good access for working on the platform and the cross formed by the figure of eight. Lash a long and sturdy wooden cross, on which to build your platform later, to the cable cross. Form another figure-of-eight around different trees or round the same trees in a different way. Tension this one off too.
The basic principle is to lock-on, via an arm tube to or near the cable cross. The lock-on can be as well protected as you want it to be. The key to the success of this platform lies in its construction, which prevents bailiffs getting good enough access to it to work on the lock-on. For stability, to reduce their access by cherry-picker, and to confuse them, build more figure-of-eight loops and pass them through the lock-on as well.
In the past, bailiffs have built a scaffolding tower up to the platform. Building the platform as high as possible, or over water, would make this more difficult. Prepare for a long stay.
Build a circular course of high ropes between trees where you are connected to an upper wire and belay cable with ropes and carabiners. Lumber companies or CorpGov will usually only employ one climber or crane to get you down keep moving from tree to tree and you can play cat and mouse with them all night. You can even build a hidden zip line for a quick escape once you've caused the logging company ultimate annoyance.
They will want to cut walkways to isolate you. This can be done from the ground using a scythe-on-a-pole, except with steel cable. They may give up if you try to pinch the top section! Alternatively they may use a weighted wire saw on a rope, which they throw over the walkway and pull. Otherwise, they may cut them from up the trees or in a cherry-picker.
It is essential to occupy walkways to stop them from being cut. You will also be defending two trees at once. If you clip onto the top line, they are likely to cut the bottom one leaving you hanging. The climber may then come for you on a pulley. If you can't escape, tie a prussik loop to the walkway so they have problems pulling you away. If you aren't clipped on, they hopefully won't cut the ropes but just chase you along the walkway. If they catch you, they will either attach a lanyard to your harness (so wear it under your clothing), or around your body and lower you to the ground. Alternatively, they may try to grab you from a cherry-picker.
Many protesters carry knives when living out doors: for cutting rope, carving wood or chopping vegetables. On a few occasions at Newbury in 1996, when protesters used them during evictions to cut ropes being tied around them, the courts misinterpreted this as cutting bailiffs' safety ropes. This led to several people getting unusually harsh sentences - prison - for Obstructing a Sheriff. The knives were visible in police video evidence.
The most effective walkway defense technique we know of is also the most dangerous. It should be practiced at ground level. It involves lying on top of a single rope, facing the climbers and unclipping your safety line. When they get close to you, let go of the rope and put your hands behind your back. This requires good balance.
Any approach they make will seriously endanger your life. Make this extremely clear to them. If you consider this tactic, pad your chest, stomach and groin, as it hurts! If they have cherry-pickers, they will just pull you into the bucket.
These should be very effective on cherry-picker proof sites. Start by building two walkways with two parallel top lines, the tree trunk's width apart.
In the eviction you can balance a wooden seat across the top two lines and sit on it. If the climbers interfere with the top two lines, you will fall off.
By acting reckless you create a situation in which the police risk serious injury to themselves or to you in attempting to remove you.
Take off your harness and climb to the top and wave it at them.
Create a board of death by tying 2 pieces of long rope high up in the tree and place a board on a sturdy branch and ease out with you and a friend maintaining balance by keeping the rope taught creating a long seesaw, from which no single occupant can be removed without dropping the other.
Suspended yourself in structures hanging from the tree on frames and even bathtubs can be used.
Keeping away climbers
- Look for pinch points, (e.g. forks in trees, defensible platforms) and hold them off there for as long as possible. Push their hands away and prevent them from throwing ropes higher up the tree. Place your feet on their shoulders and state that you will push down if they push up. *Stay mobile, and flee if they are about to capture you. Aim to end up at your most defensible spot (i.e. lock-on, monopole etc).
- Put up barbed and wired fencing, apply grease to be extra safe, if they try to clip it put your body in the way
- Nail greased up corrugated metal sheets to stop climbers with spiked boots
- A collar of barbed wire directly below the tree sit, again greased up. The main thing with collars is to make sure that they're really thoroughly nailed on, you need to put a lot of nails in, which isn't good for the tree, unfortunately. But if you'd rather set up 1 impenetrable tree that might die and saving the forest eco-system than not do it and just inevitably lose go for it.
- Hanging a gas bottle among the coils of barbed wire will freak out a climber but might not look too good in a potential court hearing.
These are designed with a platform surrounding the trunk of the tree. The only access is a lockable trap-door. The tree needs to be the tallest tree possible to prevent climber access from other nearby trees. If there are no branches immediately below the platform, climber access becomes even more difficult.
However, these platforms are vulnerable to cherry-pickers. Scaffold poles sticking out from the platform would hinder cherry-picker access; grease them to prevent climbers using them.
Incorporate lock-ons into all defensive structures. Well-placed lock-ons can block machine access and prevent tree felling. The physical obstacles you create need an aspect of novelty and humour to help to lighten the atmosphere.
Keeping away the cherry pickers
A steep bank will work short term but the greater you show your dedication the more chance of you reaching an agreement with the "owners".
Supporters on the ground
Lock onto it before it gets to you. You could also capture it by chaining it to the tree by using tough chain or cable. You could try overloading the bucket with people. The arm may then freeze or just lower slowly. This hasn't been done successfully yet. We estimate you'll need at least 6 people, all committed to going for it. There is a fear that it may topple over... Perhaps do some research.
Ladders and Poles
A ladder or a single pole can be placed to protrude above the tree canopy. This will cause problems for climbers and may even put you out of reach of cherry-pickers. This works best with straight-trunked trees such as conifers.
Haul the pole or ladder up the tree and fix it to the highest part of the tree that you think will be safe. If using a single pole, attaching several scaffolding clips to its base will give you something to lash to.
Use a plank and a rope to establish a seat at the top. Use at least four 6 inch nails, bent into an 'S' shape, as hooks to hang your seat from the end of the scaffold pole. You can lock onto a ladder.
Eviction Access Points When building, plan for where the security cordon is likely to be during the eviction and have several hidden access routes outside it. For instance, you could have two lengths of fishing line running between two trees, one tree within the camp, the other outside of where any cordon might be. Both fishing lines are attached, at their camp end, to a long length of polyprop, the other end of which is already tied to a tree within the camp. The two lengths of rope should be tied, some 1.5m (vertically) apart. The length of rope will be less obvious if stored coiled, perhaps in a plastic bag. During the eviction, activists can climb the tree outside the cordon and pull the (invisible) fishing line until they reach the lengths of polyprop. By tying these off and tensioning them to their tree, they can form walkways to get across into the camp.
Flooding a camp makes it somewhat machinery-proof. Beware of flooding your own ground lock-ons. Also make sure that you don't cause damage to sensitive habitat or destabilize the trees.
How to build:
1. Secure a long beam or scaffold pole across the river. Tie it to trees or stakes on either bank of the river. 2. Attach beams from this to the river bed, pointing upstream, at an angle of about 45 degrees. 3. Cover it in tarpaulin, soaked wet and weighted at the bottom. 4. If necessary, dig channels to help the river flood.
Only short-term but could give someone enough time who is hanging around on the forest floor to head up into the trees. On the other hand once in, they attempt to isolate the camp themselves by cutting off all access routes you may not want to do their job for them.
Obstructing a road or gateway without the need for people is a good delaying tactic. It is particularly useful for a first line of defense; whilst the enemy dismantle your barricades, you have time to get into lock-ons and set off phone trees, etc. Remember that most barricades will only delay people on foot by seconds, however.
A simple trench can achieve a lot. Dig it as wide as possible, and about as deep as wide. Wheeled vehicles will be stopped, but tracked vehicles will bridge all but the widest trench. The spoil can be used to build a bank, but move it well behind the trench, or bulldozers will just use it to fill it in again!
Barricades can be made with anything - logs, scaffold poles, metal sheets, masonry, barrels and old cars for example. Metal poles pointing outwards at an angle of 45 degrees will mean that only bulldozers will risk pushing against the structure. Intertwine everything so it holds together, using rope or wire. Burying or concreting the foundations into the ground will massively increase the strength of the barricade.
Tank-traps were used to great effect in the defense of Claremont Road from eviction in December 1994. Make one by clipping and welding together three or more scaffold poles into a 3-dimensional star, and concreting the structure almost half way into the ground.
You can buy these very cheaply, and register them with a false name and address. Be aware that driving an unroadworthy, uninsured, untaxed car will get you arrested if you're stopped. You can use scrap cars to quickly blockade a gate, road, motorway, or just about anything. Lock-ons can be built into the car to make them an even more potent tool, or you can just lock onto the chassis. To start the blockade, quickly immobilise the car by slashing tyres, removing wheels, or turning it over.
See Lock Boxes for locking yourself inside one.
Anything can be used from simply nails hammered through an upside down board to caltrops. Caltrops are nasty, small, multi-spiked metal objects, designed so that they always lie with a point upwards. They puncture the tyres of any vehicle which drives over them, and so can be placed on access roads or tossed under the wheels. They should only be used on a slow-moving or stationary vehicle. There are many problems with caltrops. They are dangerous to drivers if used on a fast-moving vehicle, and to people and animals if trodden on. If you are caught using or even carrying them, you are likely to be arrested for possession of an offensive weapon, or perhaps something more serious. Because they look menacing, the police will happily use them to discredit your campaign by calling them "weapons". They are not even a particularly reliable vehicle-stopper, as a tyre can miss them. Therefore, we advise thinking very carefully before using caltrops at all.
Lower 2 people off either side of the bridge, in harnesses connected to one long rope. Make sure you stop traffic before and alert everyone of the situation.
Warning this is inherently dangerous. Only do this on private railway, make your presence known to staff and security at site and wait for police before locking down.
Having ensured your presence around the tracks is known and no trains will be leaving until your removed, you can proceeded to lock yourself to the train track using chains, super glue, and/or lockboxes, leave no room for them to get their bolt cutters in. It is a good idea to have a legal observer watching from a distance. Once removed, tell the officers there are others locked on down the tracks, even if it isn't true, but if you can keep holding up the track by having 1 person every 100m getting police attention then putting their arms round the tracks and into lockboxes. Remember to give a Risk Assessment of the cutting operation required to the police and take ample safety measures to ensure there will be no danger to the train, the train driver, the police or the protesters. See Ffos-y-fran railway protest for reference.
Tripods have successfully been used as a mobile, easily-erected blockade. They are made from easily obtainable materials - scaffold poles from building sites, or long, straight tree trunks (use their work against them!). Sustained tripod sits in conspicuous places near major roads are a good campaign advert and focal point.
If you have rope or short scaffold poles fixed about 5 foot from the top of the tripod, they won't be able to lower the tripod by pulling it's legs apart. At Newbury in 1996, security guards used a LandRover with a roof rack, which they reversed in under the tripod apex. They stood on the roof and pulled down the sitter, after cutting any handcuffs or locks. It may be worth working on LandRover-proofing; for instance, positioning the tripod so they can't drive under it, or overlapping the legs of several tripods for mutual protection. Cherry-pickers have also been used.
For your basic tripod, acquire: 3 scaff-poles, about 25 feet long; 2 swiveling scaff-clips; and some rope, cheap, blue polypro is fine and a spanner for the nuts on the clips. You also need a fairly large space for fixing them, experimenting + practising.
It is tricky to get the clips fitted on so that the poles can be parallel as well as erect into tripods.
See the assembly as 2 main poles in an 'A' shape, plus a 3rd pole to prop them up.
The clip for the 3rd pole has to be about a foot below the main poles clip, to allow the main poles to close over it, and the central swivel of the clip should be at roughly 120 degrees round the pole from that of the main clip. Experiment until you get the clips placed so that the poles can lie parallel and open into a tripod.
With iron poles you will probably need at least 5 people to erect it, which is done after first spreading the feet of the 'a', while simultaneously raising the 3rd foot:
At least one strong person to lift each of the 2 main legs by walking down beneath it from apex to base; one person to pull the 3rd leg out to prop up the 'A'; and one person with their foot braced against the base of each main pole to stop it skidding forward. These bracers must concentrate. If a foot slips the whole thing can crash down on someone's head.
With lighter aluminium poles you might manage with 3 poles
Once it's erected, at least one person must shin up a pole at the speed of light, to be out of reach at the top.
A simple circumference rope tying the 3 poles together about 3 feet from the top can be fixed in advance and then stood on by up to 3 people.
A hammock sling is more comfortable and rather stylish. Make it out of a length of strong, light material, such as tip-stop nylon, knotted at either end, with the 2 ends of a short rope tied securely just inside these knots. The rope can be strung over your shoulders as you shin up, and slipped over the poles at the top.
For extra stability and a convivial number at the top, you can install 3 short horizontal poles, with clips. Leave each short pole dangling from one clip until the tripod is up, and then do up the 2nd clip. Don't forget the spanner. A climbing harness and slings make the job easier. You may need more people to lift it as it will be heavy.
A tripod lacking these extra bars can be stabilised against accidental slippage, though not against attack, with a circumference rope linking the legs 2 or 3 feet above the ground. Exhaust or big jubilee-clips are useful to stop this rope riding up.
Practice putting it up, shambles develops into lightening expertise. When sorted out, paint 'L' + 'R' + 'M' (left, right, middle) on the foot ends of the poles, the sides facing up as they lie ready to be raised. The 'M' pole should lie uppermost.
When the moment comes, rush the poles into the rode and erect them fast fast fast behind a traffic stopping banner.
These haven't been used in Britain, but have successfully blocked logging roads in the US and Australia. They generally need careful assembly in advance.
A bi-pod can be incorporated between two tripods, linked with a rope or further poles via the apex of each structure. The stability of the bi-pod depends entirely on its link to the two tripods. This method defends a larger area than separate tripods.
These haven't been used much. They can be dug vertically into the ground and shinned up to create an obstacle. Alternatively, you could perch them at bizarre angles, fixing one end, to form a cantilever, and dangle from the free end! There are lots of variations on this basic technique. All look fairly dangerous.
If you're willing to devote the time to digging a system of tunnels strategically surrounding the trees it will make the ground unstable for heavy machinery, an underground camp can be effective at blocking heavy machinery and excavation work. Tunnels are also very difficult for police to clear out. Be sure to have proper air circulation set up, and have your resources in there with you before you hole up.
Gather your tools together - at first all you need is a spade or shovel (trenching tools can be quite effective), and find a place to start. Pick a spot close to the main area of the camp, or fire pit: firstly; this is where other potential tunnelers will be (and you'll be after bucketeers before long!), but more importantly it minimizes the danger of the tunnel being pigged with no-one in it when the eviction starts. Bear in mind that eviction could come any time, and therefore you need to get inside quickly.
If you have a bank (or cliff) to tunnel into this means you can get quite deep quickly. This gives flexibility as, when sufficiently deep, there is nothing to stop you tunneling up as well as down! - the more complex the tunnel, the more difficult it is to evict, and the more opportunity there is for cunning defenses. One big problem that is worth considering at this stage is that of water, of the unwanted kind. Wet tunnels are unpleasant; flooded tunnels can be a write-off.
A shelter over the shaft will keep out rainwater and run-off; and drainage channels may be required to remove groundwater; (though if you dig into a hill-side, the slope will probably be efficient enough at removing water). More importantly you may strike water underground. Dramatic gushings-in of water are unheard of; but slow leaks are a common problem. Woodland tunnels tend to be dry; whereas those underground fields tend to be wet: trees soak up groundwater; and fields are quoggy morasses. So you've picked your spot? Then onto...
Unless you are digging into a near-vertical face, you will have to dig a vertical shaft first. This is because there needs to be a sufficient thickness of earth above a tunnel for it to be self-supporting. Imagine a 2" high tunnel, with only 6" of earth above -and what would happen if someone walked over it (if not before)! A good rule of thumb to avoid collapse is to ensure there is a thickness of earth on top (i.e. between the surface and the tunnel roof) that is twice the height of the tunnel you intend to dig.
Another rule of thumb is to have a tunnel width of just over 2' and a height of 2' to 2'6", as this gives you a good amount of room to work in quickly, but is not so large as to be unstable. Narrower tunnels can and have been dug but the cramped working area means that it actually takes longer to dig (shovels particularly will be impossible to use effectively), longer to make defenses, and longer to spoil out (a very tedious job in the best of conditions). People who dig narrow tunnels often say that it means that those getting you out will have to dig it wider. This is true, but it takes very little time to widen a tunnel when you are digging you will find that once a narrow hole is made, it takes comparatively little time to dig out the earth around it. It is also more feasible to concrete the walls and roof of wide tunnels and it is a lot more work for them to remove concrete than dig out earth. You will find that after concreting the tunnel becomes quite narrow anyway. Narrow tunnels are also less pleasant to live and work in (you can't move along them easily or quickly, can't turn around can't pass other people), and the psychological aspects of being underground continuously for long periods of time in a confined space cannot be underestimated. Basically, narrow tunnels cause you much more hassle than it does them, unfortunately the term "wormhole" has achieved undeserved status in some circles.
So you need a 6' deep shaft (minimum). It is worth though giving yourself a bit more flexibility and safety with the height; and go to at least 7'6". How much further you go beyond that depends a lot on how much of a rush you are in - if possible go to 10' or even further. Make the shaft a comfortable width for getting materials (and yourselves!) in and out - about 3' square is fine.
When digging the shaft buckets will start coming in useful, and hence bucketeers (not to mention people for digging, concreting, etc). You could do it yourself but a one person tunnel team will be tiring, tedious and is unrealistic. Be careful though of entrusting knowledge of a tunnel to people you don't know well - while there is no point in being paranoid, better to be safe, and genuine people will not be offended by being turned away, or not being allowed further than the entrance shaft, as long as you explain your reasons. In fact it is worthwhile to not allow anyone in the tunnel without the permission of the core group of tunnelers. Some may regard this as too authoritarian or elitist, but it is wise from the point of view of safety, security and simply to stop people, especially 'tourists', from getting in the way!
Eventually you will want to start digging inwards. At first there may not be enough room to use the shovel, in which case a lump hammer and chisel/ bolster/trowel will come in useful. Normal trowels tend to disintegrate after being bashed for a few days with a lump hammer, so it is useful finding a friendly blacksmith who will make one out of 1/4" steel. The type of ground you are going through is also relevant. It may be too stony to kick a spade or shovel farm, in which case pick may be more efficient. After awhile you'll be ready for...
Shoring makes things safer, and provides something to fix tunnel doors onto. To what extent you will shore up, and to what degree of elaboration depends on the size of the space you are digging and what you are digging through.
If you are confident enough in the ground you are digging through, you may even want to leave some sections unshored, as those evicting you will probably spend time (and hence money) shoring it themselves. Unshored tunnels are best dug to an arched cross section for safety. This also means they will have to square it off before shoring.
Don't assume that in an eviction they will spend time shoring it all up themselves unless you have a really long unshored section or it is near the entrance (where it looks good to both the Health & Safety folks and the media). Conversely, they may take out (and replace) anything you do put in, so that they can dig the tunnel wider. Also, shoring with doors attached is likely to be removed with the doors anyway.
So put basic shoring in most of the tunnel. Short bits that are awkward to shore due to their shape may be left out providing you are digging through very solid material. Apart from the safety issue, you need something to fix doors to. Psychologically, people will feel better with tunnels shored.
You will need joists of at least 2" x 3" timber, preferably 2" x 4" or 3" x 3". Pine is easier to work with than hardwoods, and hardwoods are difficult to force (hammer) into place if a tight fit, so you have to cut them to precisely the right length to avoid them being loose. This is easier said than done, as tunnels are never perfectly square or level, so are difficult to measure precisely.
Boards should be 3/4" plywood (or similar). In the UK, boards tends to come in 8" x 4" standard sizes, so if you dig to a width of just over 2', boards can be cut from this by cutting it in two lengthways. Shore in 2' to 3' long sections, with the boards supported at each end by joists.
The diagram shows how to shore up the roof only, with the upright joists recessed (optionally) into the side walls. To assemble, hold the board up (this is a job best done with two people), and hold up the cross beam at one end (a lump hammer maybe needed if it is a tight fit). Drop the two uprights into pits dug into the floor to a depth of around 4" and hammer (assuming they are a tight fit) them in place at the top. This should be enough to hold up the board while you do likewise with the cross beam and uprights at the other end.
This is fine for the main tunnel, providing the ground is reasonably solid, e.g. most dry clays. If you are going to fix doors to this shoring, it may be better not to recess the joists, hit to surround them in concrete instead to make it more difficult for them to be removed.
The previous diagram shows full shoring for the roof and sides. Use this for chambers and when tunneling through crumbly ground. Note the spreader (which can be thinner than the other joists) along the bottom which avoids the uprights sinking under pressure, and the extra set of cross beams to avoid the side boards and uprights collapsing inwards. Assemble as for the last method, but put the spreaders in first, and the extra cross beams at the very end. Note that the spreaders and bottom cross beams are recessed into channels dug into the floor. Combine these methods, if you so wish.
You should not have to nail in the shoring; it must be such a tight fit that it needs the lump hammer to get everything in place. However, if you nail the shoring in 'cosmetically' after it is done, it makes it more difficult to remove in the eviction. Particularly good are 5" or 6" nails put through the cross beams, through the roofing boards, and into the earth above.
Shoring noticeably makes your tunnel smaller, so you may feel it worthwhile never shoring closer than 2' to the end of your tunnel, ensuring there is plenty of room to dig. The tunnel roof needs to be level to ensure close contact between the shoring and the tunnel. The larger the gaps, the greater the distance earth will have to fall before it hits the shoring. therefore the greater the forces involved, and the greater the chance of the shoring breaking. A lump hammer plus chisel/bolster/trowel will come in quite useful for leveling the roof and sides, as well as for cutting recesses for the joists. Unfortunately all this can double the time required for digging the tunnel (and that is before you start adding doors etc).
A problem often encountered when fixing doors to shoring is that the shoring is not square, so you either have to make a door to an awkward shape, or have big gaps around the sides. An easy way to avoid this problem is to shore up as follows.
The trick is to dig out the pits in the floor for the uprights with their inside edges (i.e. those nearest the walls) a measured distance apart, say 2'. Then, nail two brackets (scrap wood will suffice) to the cross beam with their outside edges the same distance apart. Put the cross beams in first (you will need to dig recesses in the walls for the cross beams as shown in the diagram, but these will hold them up loosely while you pit the board and uprights in). Now slide the board in. Then, get some tightly fitting uprights and hammer them in till they stop against the brackets. The tops of the uprights will now be the same distance apart as the bottoms. The only other measurement to check is that the diagonals of the aperture are the same, this is to avoid ending up with a parallelogram shape fur the aperture. The aperture, and hence door required for a good fit, will now be square.
The uprights in this instance are a few inches in from the tunnel sides - so you may want to dig it a few inches wider. The reason for this is that they can be concreted in so that the shoring is harder to remove, and it is best if the concrete completely surrounds the uprights. If adjacent sections of shoring are concreted, form the concrete in one continuous block - this makes it much harder to remove than if there are lots of short sections.
These concrete walls can also act as side shoring if an extra cross beam is pit just below the main one at the top (as shown) to prevent collapses from the sides.
You'll need a source of light, head torches being ideal - with rechargeable batteries if practical. Petzl Zooms are ideal - Megas and Micros are OK, but Megas are more awkward in small spaces due to the bigger battery pack (they are not any brighter than Zooms), while Micros are a bit dim unless you are digging wormholes (in which case they are ideal because there is no large battery pack to get in the way). A Zoom or Mega with halogen bulb, and diffuser if possible, is ideal if you decide to take video footage of the tunnel, although be aware that halogen bulbs reduce battery life by around 7O%. Candles are feasible (don't listen to anyone who says they eat all your oxygen - candles will go out before you do!), but if you have long hair like me, then using candles in confined spaces tends to result in setting your hair on fire, something I have now done six times.
You will also need candles for the eviction, as they provide the cheapest form of light for reading by, but don't risk falling asleep with one burning. A tunnel fire could be disastrous - burns, smoke, lack of oxygen - and sleeping bags are highly flammable. For the same reason, don't do what some people did in Devon and try out lock-ons by candlelight.
[N.B. This information conflicts with other sources who advise minimising candle use by stringing up fairy lights from car batteries. Fire is a very real risk.]
A twisted tunnel, with a variation (doesn't have to be big) in width and height may be more difficult to evict as it will be more difficult to shore. It will also be more difficult for anyone to predict where it actually goes! Corners and shafts, particularly up-shafts, are going to be more difficult for people to work in, so are good places for doors or lock-ons. You'll also need to think about chambers, doors and or lock-ons. A lot depends on how much time you have if you have only a week or so until eviction, and little resources to construct doors, then it may be more worthwhile having a succession of lock-ons, arranged so that people have to be dug out one at a time. If you have a bit more time then doors are more effective, providing they are done properly -more of that later. If the eviction is likely to be more than one day, as it hopefully will, you will need a chamber to sleep in, as well as storage areas. If you are going to be there some time and have plenty of time to prepare, a 3' high and 3' wide chamber is fine (but make sure its is deep enough to be safe from collapse). This means you can sit up and also curl up when you go to bed (this latter point sounds mundane, but it's damn annoying kipping in a chamber that stops you doing this!). If you are not going to be there long (which probably means you are in rush to dig the tunnel) a 2' wide and 2'6" chamber is fine - which is the same as the suggested size of the main tunnel. Storage areas need to branch off the sides, and either alcoves or shelves cut in the wall are fine. The important thing is that once the eviction order is made, you are able to have everything necessary for the eviction down with you all the time without getting in the way of you working. Bucketing becomes a major problem after a while -you'll find that at some point sacks tied with rope nooses are easier to haul out than buckets. Make sure you have a reasonably long bit of rope, then it's just a matter of crawling along; pulling the sack up to you, crawling along pulling the sack up to you. At the end of Cake Hole one hour of digging gave rise to five or six hours of bucketing!
Another necessary piece of equipment is an air pipe. A number of things can prevent good circulation (lots of people in the tunnel, up-shafts, narrow tunnels) and this affects different people to different extents. It is also needed in the event of collapse - it may be the only source of fresh air in that case. Pick flexible piping that is at least 25mm in diameter, but if it is larger. e.g. 50mm. it will be more efficient. Don't hacksaw it but cut it with a knife to avoid plastic shavings, and make sure you always have a knife with you in the tunnel as you may not be able to get to the other end of the pipe in a collapse. Do not to bend the pipe too sharply as kinks will reduce the airflow. Whether it is best to run it along the floor, or the sides, is debatable - in a collapse it may be less likely to break on the floor, but it is more likely to be accessible quickly if it is along the sides. At the entrance of the tunnel, the pipe should have a fan on the end which can be powered from a 12V car battery (a computer fan is sufficient, and won't use much battery power). Make sure that those on the surface know if there is a collapse, the fan must be switched on! This is why the fan is safest on the surface as opposed to inside the tunnel. Bear in mind that without a fan, the pipe will be pretty inefficient in moving air.
Make sure that rainwater and mud cannot get down the pipes. The ends should be raised off the ground at the tunnel entrance. If water/mud does get in then it will form pockets that stop the airflow. To remove it, get someone to blow down the pipe at the top, and catch it in a bucket at the tunnel end. If it's been in there some days, it will be stagnant and stinks, so make sure you do this before the eviction, otherwise when the eviction air supply (which tends to have a very high flow rate) gets turned on, it will probably get pushed out then, making things very wet and very smelly.
Stale air also needs to get out. If your doors are tight fits and with no gaps around the shoring (which is good from a defensive point of view), make sure short sections of air pipe go around/through the door frame. It is also a good idea to have an extra pipe going the full length of the tunnel to remove stale air in case of collapse.
Whatever your arrangement, though, in the interests of safety try to ensure that appropriate people have samples of your air pipe so that those evicting you can bring along something to connect to it. At the very least they will have an air compressor, and it has been known for bottled air to be pumped down tunnels!
Doors are best constructed out of more than one material - a ply/sheet metal/ply sandwich for example. This is because blades to cut through wood will not cut metal, and to a significant extent, the reverse also applies. A rubber sheet somewhere would probably not go amiss, it would be such a shame if the heat from a saw blade or drill bit melted the rubber and knackered the tool in question. Make the door pretty thick - in the example mentioned, the ply would beat least 3/4". The one exception to a laminated tunnel door is having a very thick (e.g. 10mm steel) door made by a friendly blacksmith, that cannot easily fall victim to an angle grinder.
Door frames should be made solid - assuming you are fixing them to shoring, the joists in question should be strong - ideally 3" x 3" or thicker. This also gives a good thickness of wood to drive screws into. To avoid the frames being lifted out; concrete them in on both sides. It is worth spiking doorframes with nails, and nails only partly concreted in will "key" concrete onto the frame. More nails fixing the joists together will make the door more resistant to eviction.
The hinges and bolts used should be heavy duty; T-hinges are the strongest, and you may want to use as many the size of the door allows! Screws should be at least 08. A potential weak point if entry is attempted using brute force and ignorance, is where the bolts go into the door frame - the small brackets supplied with most bolts provide holes for only two screws. You may get away with it if the screws are 08, but from experience I can say that 06 screws are not good enough. It is probably better to fabricate your own solution to the problem, possibly involving metal or wood screwed to the frame and maybe backed by concrete. One idea that has been tried with some success is having an extra set of T-hinges attached to this side of the frame, which then get attached to the door at the last minute with nails.
Another weakness is the gap between door and door frame - it is worthwhile trying to get the frame as square/rectangular as possible, and to make the door fit this precisely (though be careful when installing tight fitting doors that you don't shut yourself in behind a door that won't open!). There will still be a gap though, however small, that a crowbar or sawblade (to cut the hinges/bolts) could get through. Assuming it is a metal blade for cutting hinges or bolts, put some wood in the way. A better way to avoid this problem is to cover the gap in the first place by putting an extra set of joists in front of the door (concreted in if possible!). Don't just cover by the hinges and bolts to stop the saw - remember that a crowbar can get in at any of the four sides if there is a gap.
Don't forget that last minute modifications such as nailing on extra hinges stop you getting out in a hurry - so should be just that - last minute! As they are last minute they also need to be quick so make sure any screws already have decent pilot holes so you can drive them in all the way quickly. You may feel that nails are better on balance because of this, or a combination of nails and screws, with the nails hammered in first, the screws last. Probably the most effective quick addition are long nails through the door into the surrounding frame.
You may not require any lock-on at all - if there are lots of doors that are definitely going to take a while to get through, you may not feel it worthwhile. If you are not sure of that though, a lock-on at the end of the tunnel can be a good insurance policy if the doors don't turn out to be as good as you thought. Also lock-ons can be put in quickly - so are good if you have not the time to get good doors in. Lock-ons in tunnels can be made much more awkward to remove than surface or even tree lock-ons, and probably the best advice here is to let your imagination run riot!
A good tactic is to have someone in front of a door locked behind it. This hinders them working on the door which needs to be removed before the person can be unlocked. The actual "lock" in this case can be as simple as a chain around the wrist, attached to a rope that is tied to some sturdy shoring. Obviously you need a gap either in the door or next to it, for an arm to fit through - but the good thing about this type of lock-on is that if they enlarge this hole, someone else inside the tunnel can pull the locked-on arm further in, and re-attach it!
Protest sites are usually full of people who know how to make lock-ons, but I'll briefly go over it anyway for the benefit of others. You need a tube, about 2 long that is arm-sized. Metal is best, but drainpipe is sufficient and easier to work with. Put a rod perpendicularly through the tube near one end - this is so someone can slip onto it using a carabiner (climbing "clip") attached to their wrist via rope, tape, or preferably chain. Be careful that this wrist clip isn't a self-tightening noose that could constrict circulation to the hand. This is surrounded in concrete, maybe in a metal barrel, maybe buried in the ground, or maybe a combination of both (some cooking oil barrels are handily tunnel sized).
I'll assume you know, or know someone who can show you how to mix basic concrete. A mix of aggregate, sand and cement in the ratio 3:2:1 is a good general purpose mix though 4:2:1 is fine if you need more bulk. Use small aggregate; around 5mm, otherwise as small as possible. Granite chippings are hard, as is gravel; limestone is soft, and therefore a last resort.
It is best to reinforce any concrete with metal as they will need to keep swapping tools to get through the concrete and metal. Put the metal in place first -chicken wire is surprisingly effective and relatively easy to get hold of. The worst thing in concrete is air holes, and this is quite a problem if chicken wire is stopping the wet mix flowing into the lock-on (you could try adding bits of chicken wire as you pour the mix in, rather than beforehand). Either use a stick to press it down, or hit the sides of any barrel with a hammer, and it should minimize the problem. Making the mix quite wet also helps it flow down.
For various reasons some people recommend glass and/or rubber in the mix. The reasoning is that glass is hard to cut through (though it does shatter rather easily!), and rubber will hold up a kango hammer by causing it to rebound (though they are less likely to use a kango in a tunnel, especially as it will be difficult to hold and work with in a confined space). Personally, I would not bother with either rubber or glass, as they both weaken the mix; and shattering glass stands a fair chance of damaging someone's eyes - most likely yours!
When concreting walls you'll need to put shuttering in. These are wooden boards that hold the wet mix in place while it sets. Apart from the confined space, the main problem I have found with concrete in tunnels, is that you cannot put shuttering in completely to the top (you need a hole to pour it through!). Unfortunately there is no way that I know of to get round this.
You may like to run the air pipes through the concrete, so that they are more cautious while chipping it away - this also means that the gaps the pipes run through do not serve as weak points around the doors. In fact, you could even mix in some dummy air pipes - they of course, will not know which is which.
Fortifying The Entrance
It is worthwhile paying particular attention to the entrance, for a number of reasons. Firstly it should be quick and easy to get past the first door, and to shut it (the eviction could start at any time, not just when you are working or sleeping underground). This is more important than having a well fortified first door, and there is nothing wrong with it simply being a flimsy trapdoor at the shaft mouth, that just gives time for people to get into the main part of the tunnel and/or into lock-ons.
The other big consideration is that lock-ons around the entrance, or in the entrance shaft mean that people who do not want to go underground can take an active part in the eviction. People locked on, possibly around doors (as mentioned under #lock-ons) greatly slow down the eviction as more care needs to be taken with people than objects, which can mean a slow eviction. Also, people locked-on in the shaft mean that others have that bit more time to get in to the main part of the tunnel, and to shut the door, without being caught.
Multiple shaft lock-ons could be mounted above each other, either in the walls or on strong timber platforms, which would be more effective than individual separate lock-ons, as those doing the evicting will have less room and will need to take more care (and therefore time). A good thing about shaft lock-ons is that they will not necessarily go entirely to waste if no-one reaches them come eviction time, as concrete will still have to be removed if it is in the way. A surface fort is worthwhile, and can provide sleeping space for people who are going to lock-on around the shaft (presumably, tunnelers will be sleeping underground). It needn't be complex, and can just be a wooden hut surrounded and/or covered with the spoil taken out from the tunnel. It will probably have to be taken down in the eviction, to provide a working space for those evicting you, and to provide room to get tools and material in and out. The door to a fort should be at least strong enough to give time for the occupants to lock-on, etc.
...is really nice actually, though some people are unconvinced of its merits. There are some pitfalls though.
If the main tunnel is big enough for more than one person, make sure that everyone is going to get on with each other in a confined space. Everyone may be getting on just fine normally, but problems can arise when stuck together for a few days in a hole in the ground. For example, people do need to give each other space and privacy, not be incessant talkers, but still be pleasant to talk to when you do that. You may even feel that a one-person tunnel is not such a bad thing - that way you have the company of 'their' tunnelers by day but your own space at night.
Another problem that may arise is that even if at first, people do not want to be living in the tunnel, there are times when everyone seems to want to be there. This is a good reason to decide early on who is going to live there (it should be people out of the core group who will presumably be keen, have done plenty of work, and spent a lot of time underground). Be careful of late additions to this group - you need to know that everyone who is likely to get evicted from the tunnel is stable and easy to get on with. Ground rules should be set early, and fixed - any newcomers should respect these.
You do need to be sure that people are not going to lose their bottle - during a false eviction alert at Devon, one person was literally fighting to get out. Having someone leave because of this, means opening and quite possibly losing one of the doors. To guard against this, make sure that everyone who might be in the main tunnel (not counting shaft lock-ons) during the eviction spends a lot of time below ground, including sleeping.
These are all good reasons to have a small core group that already knows each other well, know they can get on with each other, and who knows that the others in the group are stable. As mentioned previously, this may sound elitist, but it gets the job done and avoids personality problems. Even if someone comes along to help and does lots of work, this does not necessarily mean that they will be underground in the eviction. Be especially careful of people who turn up, want to join in, but end up doing little work
At night you need to sleep in the tunnel if there is the threat of eviction, and it is not a bad idea to sleep there anyway, both to get used to it, and to guard against unwanted guests. This may mean evicting enthusiastic helpers at night, and locking the doors to prevent similar wake-up calls, so that you get sleep, space and privacy. If you are the enthusiastic helper, then don't be offended by this - it's just that the people who are going to be evicted will be also by necessity living in the tunnel before the eviction, and need sleep, space and privacy just like anyone else.
Tunnel occupants may end up keeping odd hours as well, especially if like me you don't like getting up in the morning but are happy to be working through the night. It's best not to get too nocturnal as it can make your body do weird things and means that others aren't as able to help you - though it can make pixieing more convenient.
Firstly good luck, take care, and may the force be with yon.
Secondly, don't assume you'll have more than a few seconds warning before you have to leave your hot mug of tea, and have to leg it down your hole.
Thirdly, DON'T PANIC!
If all goes to plan, you'll have shut yourself underground, and any lock-ons in the entrance will be occupied. Before long, a bloke in a red jacket and a red hard hat will come along and read out a notice saying that everyone should leave now or face arrest under Section 10 of the Criminal Law Act 1977. If you hear this, you would of course, being a law-abiding citizen, leave forthwith. Unfortunately, being down the tunnel you can't hear this. After a while one of two groups of people will turn up.
One group, popularly known as the "Men in Black", dress funnily enough, in black - from head to toe, and with balaclavas on. This lot are from International Mine Rescue, run by Pete Faulding and as far as we know are ex-special forces (e.g SAS and SBS). They are experts who know what they are doing, are used to man-made holes in the ground, and will take good care that everyone gets out safely. They have never been violent or nasty, so be nice to them as well. For all these reasons they are preferred by both protesters and under-sheriffs. They did the Fairmile eviction (of Swampy fame), the Manchester Airport evictions, and the eviction at the Huntingdon "Death" Sciences protest camp.
The other group, Richard Turner and Associates (RTA), who are the people who evict protesters from trees, are less predictable. They have so far done just two tunnel evictions - Trollheim and Bluebell Woods in Manchester. Trollheim was very violent by all accounts, and little attention was paid to Health and Safety, which resulted in them getting their wrists slapped by the HSE. The Bluebell Woods eviction was not violent at all, although it was obvious that unlike IMR they are not experts (and hence not as safe) in man-made holes (some of them are cave rescue, but that is quite a different thing - caves don't need shoring and are somewhat less likely to collapse). The thing about RTA is that they are a bunch of varied people - Tim, "Mousse," and one of the Richards (not Turner) who ran the show at Bluebell were friendly enough, but there are others in RTA who probably wouldn't be.
At first, it may seem like there is very little you can do, but all the time you can be listening to what's going on, and doing last minute improvements. You'll inevitably end up chatting to whoever is getting you out, and when they are working on the doors, you can be doing whatever repairs you can from your side. If you have an intercom running up to the trees, then you have someone else to talk to, and if that fails, local radio are a good bet for finding out how things are going. Eventually, they will get to you, and bring you out. You'll probably get arrested for obstructing the sheriff's officers, though you should be given time to bring your property out unless they do that for you. If you come out before they get you out, you may be able to avoid being arrested, but that has only happened once. If arrested, you probably will be convicted, but it typically involved a one year conditional discharge, and a small order for costs (e.g. £40).
Tools and Equipment
- Spade/shovel/trenching tool. It's a good idea to have one always around at the top as a safety measure.
- Lump hammer.
- Cold chisel and (or bolster and/or trowel (preferably a purpose made heavy duty trowel).
- Tape measure.
- Sharp panel saw for cutting shoring.
- Appropriate tools for door and lock-on construction (doors can also be made off site -but make sure they can fit down the tunnel.
If required for installing doors, a screwdriver for fixing hinges and bolts, and a drill to pit in pilot holes (alternatively hammer nails in, then extract them with claw hammer or crowbar, leaving a pilot hole).
- Crowbar if possible - tends to come in useful for lots of things.
- Buckets and/or sacks/and rope.
- Sharp knife.
- Head torch and batteries.
Food that doesn't go off, and doesn't need cooking. Tins are a good idea - fruit, soups to eat cold, etc. Don't forget a tin opener - if it stops working a coal chisel and hammer may do the job.
Plenty of nibbles - biscuits, chocolate, etc. Don't be tempted to eat it all at once though!
Drinks e.g. soya milk and fruit juices. Lots of mineral water (tap water goes off after a few days). You should allow for around 2 litres of fluid per person per day.
Piss bottles. You will be able to use empty water bottles, but bear in mind you need at least 30% more bottles than drink bottles as you take fluid in via food also. In addition cartons cannot be pissed into after you have drunk their contents. On the same subject, a funnel may be useful.
Carrier bags to shit in, and bog roll. Bury them, or if possible leave them for collection in the morning! On a practical level, it is very difficult to shit without pissing at the same time. In a confined space such as a tunnel, this point is particularly important.
Something to do. Books, writing paper (and plenty of biros in case some don't work), games, playing cards, etc. All depends on what you like doing really.
Nails (a selection from 2" to 6") and a hammer - a definite for defending doors. Extra wood, and maybe a saw, could also come in useful. Be prepared to improvise e.g. cold chisels become door stops when the last door is being breached!
Candles, plus lighters and matches. Make sure you have spare sets of matches!
A radio. You'll get medium wave fine, but if you want FM you'll have to run a wire to the surface. If possible, you may want to run this through any concreting or through the air pipes so that it stays there as long as possible.
Something metal and bar-like e.g. crowbar, cold chisel, etc, just in case you have to dismantle shoring (for example) for whatever reason. A few digging tools are worthwhile, and will probably be down there anyway.
Sleeping bag and mat/carpet
Being English, I've generally used Imperial units of measurement throughout, so these conversions may be helpful.
1" (1 inch) = 25mm
l' (l foot) = 12" = 300mm
Positive Defensive Tactics
If we are continuously seen as antagonists with no positive vision then we will always remain a minority. Taller towers and stronger lock-ons are visual statements but they don't explain the depth of change required. Setting a positive agenda, by creating or illustrating an alternative to road building, earth-rape and exhaustive consumption, is a goal which we must move towards. If we can create communities that work together to produce a gradually increasing proportion of our needs, we can show a workable alternative.
Some road protest camps in Britain have declared independence, and planted up gardens on threatened land. These provide a proportion of activists' diet and a focus of activity for supporters. The Gotan Diggers Community at Newbury in 1996 was inspired by the 17th Century Diggers, who believed that "the land should be a common treasury for all".
The principles of Permaculture Design are a positive recent development well worth incorporating into camps (and our lives in general). Compost toilets, biodegradable dwellings and low maintenance perennial gardens are all ways of working with nature to enhance the living environment.
Drop a banner from the tree sit saying "NO OLD-GROWTH LOGGING".
Make a nice graffiti art piece in your local town showing your presence, don't make it look messy otherwise the local community will turn against you.
If there is a river which goes from the forest into a local town, you can build a raft and float downriver with a big sign saying "save the forest" or similar.
Build a Website
If you don't have a web designer use freewebs or wordpress.
Write an Article
Write about your experiences thus far and ask for volunteers and state you're wish list, entice people with workshops and free vegan meals that you've salvaged from the dumpsters. When you've finished you're article Send it in to as many alternative news sights as you can See News Services
Call the local newspaper
Only do this if you don't mind risking getting your story perverted, play to sympathetic reporters when possible.
Take visitors to observe ancient forest ecosystems and freshly killed tree remains, but make sure to give them the background.
Build a platform light enough to hoist in the air but large enough to live in during an eviction (net's or fencing work well), tie multiple guy ropes to it and climb up to the top of nearby trees and pull the rope tight so the raft comes up to same level.
In 2003, to prevent the killing of a grand old eucalyptus tree named "Gandalf's Staff" in the Styx Valley of Tasmania, activists built a 65m tree platform equipped with solar power, a satellite phone, laptop computers and a month's worth of food. To explore the possibilities of a more permanent arboreal camp for future protests, architect Andrew Maynard designed a structure spread over three trees, allowing as many as six tree sitters at a time to occupy the platform.
In Stanton Moor, England a caravan was used in a beautifully built tree village to stop a destructive open cast coal mine.
Build a massive structure out of crosstied logs taller than the tree line and any climbers wont be able to reach you with walkways. They can't climb the structure themselves for fear of safety, and if you have tunnels they can't bring in cherry pickers, the only thing they can do is build a massive scaff tower themselves, and if you dam a nearby river they're screwed.
List of current tree sits
- Huntington lane protest camp in Telford, England. See Free The Wrekin, UK
- Bilston glen anti bypass protest site, Scotland. Intent on blocking any attempts to build a road at Bilston Glen, also doing a alternative lifestyle project. Living and working together, organizing and co-operatively helping each other.
- The Happendon Wood Action Camp, Defending a forest in South Lanarkshire from Scottish Coal.
- The largest number of tree-sits are in Humboldt County, Ca. to prevent logging of 100+ year old redwoods by Green Diamond (formerly known as Simpson). One of the tree-villages is defending the territory of an active Spotted Owl mating pair and has grown to include over 30 trees that are tied together with tyrolean traverses. Though Earth First! Humboldt will not say exactly how many people or sits are up there, they do say there is a crew of tree-dwellers. The Earth First!ers withdrew from the village bordering the suburbs in order to strengthen their defense of the older and more secluded of the two groves where many more wildlife species find habitat and refuge.
- A tree village is ongoing in the Ryan Creek watershed next to Eureka, California. These tree-sits are defending a large area of Redwoods with a crew of people. More trees are being added to the rope networks all the time. This is to resist clear-cutting and development plans by the Green Diamond Resource Company. The Earth First! Humboldt collective is organizing a campaign to expose and obstruct Green Diamonds destructive logging of the Redwood forest. The company owns around 430,000 acres (1,700 km2) of Redwoods in Humboldt and Del Norte counties making them the biggest single landowner of Redwood forest.
- Fern Gully, located south of Arcata, California, and north of the Nanning Creek sit. It is one of the few remaining tracts of old-growth in the Freshwater area. Fern Gully was started as a Pirate sit, unconnected at first from any organizations such as Earth First!. By 2005, it had 22 trees tied together for transarboreal travel. The village is equipped with a raincatch system that transports water 40 feet (12 m) down to a running tap at the platform, as well as a solar panel at 63m in a tree named Watsi. The village was raided by Pacific Lumber contracted climbers. They did not extract a single person, instead cutting out unoccupied traverses, platforms and dreamcatchers. This was a major blow to the village, but the sit continues, and the area remains uncut.