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Title: Ecotage  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Radical environmentalism, Leaderless resistance, Earth Liberation Front, Billboarding, Neo-Luddism
Collection: Eco-Terrorism, Protest Tactics, Radical Environmentalism, Words Coined in the 1970S
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Ecotage (a portmanteau of the "eco-" prefix and "sabotage") is direct action by extreme environmentalist groups (such as Earth First!) in the Western world.[1] Ecotage is often seen as indistinguishable from acts of civil disobedience or even eco-terrorism.


  • Cases 1
  • In fiction 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


"Stop Urban Sprawl" is spray-painted on a multi-million dollar house to protest the development. Mansions in the United States are a frequent target by the ELF.

All damage figures below are in United States dollars. Some well-known acts of ecotage have included:

  • 1998 – Arson of buildings at Vail Mountain in the United States by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF).
  • March 11, 1999 – Genetically engineered potatoes uprooted at Crop and Food research centre in New Zealand.[2]
  • December 25, 1999 – In Monmouth, Oregon, fire destroys the main office of the Boise Cascade logging company costing over $1 million ($1.4 million in 2015 dollars). ELF claim responsibility.
  • 2001 – Members of the ELF were prosecuted for setting off a firebomb that caused $7 million in damages ($10 million in 2015 dollars) at the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture[3]
  • 2003 – On August 1, a 206-unit condominium being built in San Diego, California was burnt down causing damage in excess of $20 million ($28 million in 2015 dollars). A 12-foot banner at the scene read "If you build it, we will burn it," signed, "The E.L.F.s are mad."
  • 2003 – On August 22, arsonists associated with the Earth Liberation Front attacked several car dealerships in east suburban Los Angeles, burning down a warehouse and vandalizing over 100 vehicles, most of them SUVs or Hummers (chosen for their notoriously poor fuel efficiency) and causing over $1 million in damage ($1.3 million in 2015 dollars).

In fiction

Ecotage was popularized in 1975 by Edward Abbey's book The Monkey Wrench Gang. It has also been treated in novels by T. Coraghessan Boyle (A Friend of the Earth), Carl Hiaasen (Tourist Season, Sick Puppy, Hoot), Neal Stephenson (Zodiac: The Eco-Thriller), and Richard Melo (Jokerman 8), and movies such as Choke Canyon (1986) and On Deadly Ground (1994).

Ecotage! is also the title of a 1972 humor book by Sam Love, which is the likely origin of the word.

Ecotage is mentioned in Mars trilogy of science fiction novels by Kim Stanley Robinson as a means of protest shown by the Red political party. Typically the "Reds" would destroy terraforming ventures in an effort to slow the terraforming of Mars.

The Concrete mini series Think Like a Mountain is centred about ecotage aimed to protect first growth forests in the Pacific North-West.

See also


  1. ^ Plows, A., Wall, D. & Doherty, B., (2004) ‘Covert Repertoires: ecotage in the UK’ in Social Movement Studies, vol. 3, iss. 2, pp. 199 – 219
  2. ^ Wild Greens Attack GE Potatoes, Genetic Engineering Network, March 11th 1999.
  3. ^ Bernton, Hal (October 5, 2006). "Local News | Earth Liberation Front members plead guilty in 2001 firebombing | Seattle Times Newspaper". Retrieved 2010-09-01. 

External links

  • Ecodefense: A Field Guide To Monkeywrenching - Online text
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