The following group of distinguished figures have agreed to act as ‘ambassadors’ for the Ghost Forest installation. Many have offered to speak at the series of lectures we plan to hold as part of the Ghost Forest project in Oxford, July 2010 – July 2011.
Peter Ainsworth was twice awarded the Environmental Politician of the Year and is former Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Environment. He is a director of Plantlife International, vice-president of the Wildlife and Countryside Link, and a director of the Robertsbridge Group which seeks to achieve environmental justice for the planet from businesses, politicians and individuals.
On Ghost Forest, he writes: “Will we, in this generation, have the courage to take the action at home and across the globe which is needed in order to ensure economic, social and environmental wellbeing? This is not about saving the planet – the planet can look after itself – it’s about saving what passes for civilisation. If we look for a single solution to the challenge of climate change, we will look in vain. There are millions of solutions: in our homes; in the workplace; in government policies; and in emerging technologies and enterprise. But beyond the complexity of all of that there remains the simple fact that if we continue to destroy the rainforests our other efforts will fail.
‘The Ghost Forest is an ambitious, powerful and moving statement of that simple fact. The First World War poet Wilfred Owen wrote that “all a poet can do today is warn.” Angela Palmer’s work is created in the same spirit.”
John Ashton is the UK government’s Special Representative for Climate Change to the Foreign Secretary. He is founder of E3G, an independent not-for-profit organisation that works in the public interest to accelerate the global transition to sustainable development. He is a member of the Green College Centre for Environmental Policy and Understanding and serves on the Advisory Boards of the Climate Institute, Washington DC, and of the UK Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.
On Ghost Forest, John Ashton writes: “The gap between what nations need to do about climate change and what they are doing is, alas, even wider now than it was when Angela conceived the Ghost Forest. Politics alone cannot close the gap, it is in the end cultural. I hope that reality will continue to be an inspiration for Angela, and for ever more people who feel inclined to express themselves through art.”
Professor Edward Ayensu
Professor Edward Ayensu, formerly Chairman of the World Bank Inspection Panel, is Chairman of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, (CSIR) Ghana. He is a founding Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences, and is a fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford; the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences; and the New York Academy of Sciences. He was twice awarded the Ghana National Science Award and is the recipient of the Outstanding Service Award from the United States National Museum of Natural History. During the Millennium Celebrations he was given the Outstanding Statesman Award by Ghana.
Frances Cairncross is Rector of Exeter College, University of Oxford. She worked for The Economist for 20 years, and during her period as its Environment Editor wrote two influential books, Costing the Earth: the Challenges for Government, the Opportunities for Business; and Green Inc.: Business, Economics and the Environment. Her most recent book is The Company of the Future, which according to The Financial Times ‘deserves to be a key text for future social and business historians.’ She chaired the Economic and Social Research Council for six years until 2007 and is a past President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
Saba Douglas-Hamilton is a committed environmentalist and a presenter of television wildlife documentaries, including the hugely popular BBC series, The Big Cat Diary, and last year the much acclaimed The Secret Lives of Elephants. She has seen firsthand the impact of logging in African rainforests, and is keen to share her experiences with the public during the Ghost Forest’s installation in Oxford.
Dr William Hawthorne is a tropical botanist and plant ecologist at the Plant Sciences Department of Oxford University. He has worked mostly in tropical Africa – especially Ghana – but also in the Caribbean, Mexico, Chile and Malaysia. He is concerned with forest and plant regeneration, particularly in determining or promoting recovery of rain forest condition after disturbance and use, and understanding the autoecology of the varied species in the forest. He co-wrote the Biodiversity of West African Forests, which won the silver Engler book medal in 2008. He also wrote a farmer-friendly photo-guide to the larger trees of Ghana with Ntim Gyakari, a Ghanaian plant specialist who was probably the most key figure in the creation of the Ghost Forest. Dr Hawthorne also collaborated in the development of database software for the management of forest data for planning reduced impact logging, and is responsible for setting up the Virtual Field Herbarium.
Michael Jenkins is founder and President of Washington-based Forest Trends, and the 2010 recipient of the £500,000 Skoll Foundation Award for Social Entrepreneurship. Formerly a forester in Haiti and Brazil, he witnessed the degradation of natural ecosystems and realised that traditional philanthropy alone could not solve the problem of worldwide deforestation. Forest Trends highlights the market value of ‘natural capital’, and is widely recognised for advancing the concept and practical application of ‘payments for ecosystem services’ as a tool in conserving forests.
On Ghost Forest, Michael writes: “Angela has brought to life the stark image of a logged tropical forest. Hundreds of years of history, hundreds of feet in height, nature’s greatest monument. As we wrestle with the greatest challenge to civilization – to maintain and conserve the natural infrastructure of our planet Earth, good science, good policy and dedicated leaders will only be able to take us so far. It is the compassion within us all, the imagination that must also be awakened. The Ghost Forest brings to the surface these emotions and demonstrates the powerful tool of art to motivate action.”
Stanley Johnson is an author, environmentalist, farmer, politician, and traveller. He is a former member of the European Parliament where he served as Vice Chairman of the Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection. He worked in the European Commission as Head of the Prevention of Pollution division and was Senior Adviser to DG Environment and as Director of Energy Policy.
Stanley is currently a trustee of the Gorilla Organisation (www.gorillas.org) and an Ambassador for the United Nations Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) (www.cms.int). He has written 11 books on environmental issues, including his most recent, with Robert Vagg, ‘Survival: Saving Endangered Migratory Species’. His other works include The Politics of the Environment; The Earth Summit; and The Environmental Policy of the European Communities. He has also written nine novels, including The Commissioner which was made into a film starring John Hurt.
He was awarded the Greenpeace Prize for Outstanding Services to the Environment and the RSPCA Richard Martin award for services to animal welfare.
Since 1951 his family has farmed on Exmoor, on the Devon-Somerset border, and Stanley still manages the farm there today. His son Boris is Mayor of London.
Martha Kearney is presenter of The World at One, the BBC’s flagship programme on current affairs; she is also a presenter of the BBC Newsnight Review. Martha was nominated for a BAFTA award for her coverage of the Northern Ireland Peace Process; she was the Television and Radio Industries’ Radio Presenter of the Year with Jenni Murray; and Sony bronze award winner for a programme on child poverty. Martha is an amateur beekeeper, and presented a major television programme on the worldwide disappearance of bees. She is also patron of The Iris Project, an educational charity to bring ancient languages and culture to inner city state schools and communities. Martha was instrumental in securing Trafalgar Square as a site for the Ghost Forest trees.
Sir David King
Sir David King is Director of the Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford. He was formerly the UK Government’s former Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of the Government Office of Science from 2000 to 2007. During that time, he alerted governments worldwide to the threat of climate change and was instrumental in creating the £1bn Energy Technologies Institute. Sir David is now forging links with global businesses and politicians to be a catalyst for innovative science and sustainable economic progress.
Julia Marton-Lefevre is Director General of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) the world’s largest conservation/environment membership organization which brings together states, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, scientists and experts. IUCN’s mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.
On Ghost Forest, Julia Marton-Lefevre writes: “The Ghost Forest is excellent in sensitising the public on the vulnerability of our environment. Even for those who have never been to a tropical forest, just seeing those tree ghosts touches hearts and minds and hopefully encourages positive action. We all need those forests to be strong and healthy, and the inspiration of this project should move us to think about the consequences of our lifestyles and our political actions.”
Dr Meg Lowman
Meg Lowman, professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at New College of Florida, US, is the pioneer of canopy ecology. Known as ‘Canopy Meg’, she has designed hot-air balloons and walkways for treetop exploration to solve mysteries in the world’s forests, with special expertise on the links between insect pests and ecosystem health. Meg is affectionately called the grandmother of canopy research as one of the first scientists to explore the “eighth continent”. She relentlessly works to “map” the canopy for biodiversity and to champion forest conservation worldwide. She is also Vice President of The Explorers Club; Vice President of the Ecological Society of America; and Executive Director of the TREE Foundation. Her mantra is ‘no child left indoors.’
On Ghost Forest, Professor Lowman writes: “Ghost Forest conveys an urgent global message, and Angela Palmer is a brilliant archeologist-artist-scientist combined into one. Her removal of the treetrunks from a logging site in Ghana represents an opportunity for millions to view the architecture of trees, with their roots as the basis of all life on earth. This exhibition not only integrates art and science, but the conservation message is critical for our children’s future.”
Dr George McGavin
Dr George McGavin is an explorer, entomologist and zoologist. He presented the phenomenally successful Expedition series for the BBC which included the Lost Land of the Volcano, and the Lost Land of the Jaguar, and is currently working on his next series set in Bhutan. He is passionate about the rainforest and the biodiversity it supports, and has offered a series of talks around the Ghost Forest project in Oxford.
Professor Yadvinder Mahli
Professor Yadvinder Mahli is one of the most respected authorities in the world on rainforests. He is Professor of Ecosystem Science at the University of Oxford and the Environment and Programme Leader in Ecosystems at the Environmental Change Institute. His research interests focus on interactions between forest ecosystems and the global atmosphere, with a particular focus on their role in global carbon, energy and water cycles, and in understanding how the ecology of natural ecosystems may be shifting in response to global atmospheric change. He has offered to give a keynote address at one of the lectures planned for the Ghost Forest’s year in Oxford.
Dr Andrew Mitchell
Dr Andrew Mitchell is a leading authority on rainforest canopies. He is head of the Global Canopy Programme, an international network linking 38 scientific institutions in 19 countries engaged in researching the impact of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystems in forest canopies. He is an adviser on rainforests to the Prince of Wales and the Princes Rainforest Project.
On Ghost Forest, Andrew Mitchell writes: “Effective communication on the importance of tropical forests at a high level, from Governments to business and consumers, must be a key strategy to change deforestation from a Titanic-like disaster into an irresistible opportunity for solving climate change. The Ghost Forest has already proved itself to be an immensely powerful work of art and inspiration in getting this message across, both in London’s Trafalgar Square and at the UN Climate meeting in Copenhagen. It brings the bitter tragedy of forest loss so close, that you can touch it, yet offers wonder and hope that we are now at a sweet spot in human history where these forests could be saved. I am delighted that the Ghost Forest will now be nested at Oxford for a year in the heart of one of the greatest Universities in the world where it can electrify debate in both town and gown but also challenge the international stage.”
Hylton Murray-Philipson is director of Canopy Capital which recently signed an historic deal to preserve the rainforest of Iwokrama in Guyana, South America. By investing significantly in the reserve’s $1.2 million research programme, he believes the resources generated from the living forest – carbon storage, rainfall, biodiversity, climate regulation et al – will eventually be a valuable commodity in the international market. ‘The rules of the game we inherited from our forefathers are no longer fit for purpose. With global population going from 1.5 billion in 1900 to 6.7 billion today, the relationship between man and the planet is reaching crisis point. Sustainability needs to be at the heart of everything we do.’ Hylton is also head of Wingate Ventures which provides corporate finance to businesses making a positive contribution to the environment.
On Ghost Forest, Hylton Murray-Philipson writes: “Forests – not dogs- are Man’s best friend. The greatest concentration of life on earth parades above, below and through the canopy. Forests store vast amounts of carbon and they cool the earth through shade and evaporation. Destroying the planet’s air conditioning unit is a perverse response to global warming, but in the last 50 years we have lost 50% of our best friend. Even now, we continue to lose forest equivalent to 15 football pitches a minute, or 82 Port Meadows in Oxford a day. Business as usual is going to end in tears, so lets seize the opportunity provided by current financial crises to rethink the model and reassess what is valuable while we still have time. More of the same is not a viable option. I hope that these magnificent ambassadors help us to learn from the past; help us to live for today; and help us hope for tomorrow.”
Mauricio Rodriguez Munera, Colombian Ambassador to the UK
Mauricio Rodriguez Munera is the Ambassador to the UK of Colombia, the most biodiverse nation in the world per square kilometre. Ambassador Munera, who has agreed to give a lecture at the Museum of Natural History during the Ghost Forest’s Year in Oxford, has been responsible for several initiatives in drawing global attention to the deforestation of its rainforests. He is the founder and former director of Portafolio, Colombia’s most prominent economic and finacial newspaper; was founder and host of the weekly television programme ‘Sala de redaccion’ (Newsroom); and has worked as a journalist for Caracol Radio, El Tiempo, El Espectador and Poder Magazine. He has also served on the board of the Museum of Modern Art, La Fundacion Santafe and the Silva House of Poetry. He is also a former President and professor of several of Colombia’s academic institutions, including the Universidad de los Andes and CESA business school. He has written six books on management, economics and leadership.
On the Ghost Forest, he writes: “The Ghost Forest Project is a wonderful creative idea that has the objective of raising awareness all over the world of the urgent need to take radical action to protect the lungs of the planet – the rainforests. Angela Palmer is a unique artist who has used her talent and enthusiasm in a very original way that has inspired me to do much more in favour of the environment. Now I want to help her as much as I can to spread the message.”
On Colombia he adds: “Colombia is a biodiverse paradise due to its strategic location in the American Tropics, its complex topography marked by the Andes, its coasts on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean which make the country the most diverse nation in the world, per square kilometre. We have the greatest number of species of amphibians and the 2nd largest variety of butterflies. There are 1,721 bird species registered in Colombia which amounts 19% of all the species in the world and 60% of the birds in South America.”
Professor Marcus du Sautoy
Professor Marcus du Sautoy succeeded Richard Dawkins as the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science in 2008 at the University of Oxford. “Without an understanding of the language of science and mathematics, as Galileo once wrote, we will all be wandering around lost in a dark labyrinth”, he says.