Ghost Forest Art Project – Oxford

The Denya being washedThe connection between deforestation and climate change, and the challenge to express that visually, is the basis for Angela Palmer’s most ambitious and logistically challenging work yet. The concept is to present a series of rainforest tree stumps as a ‘ghost forest’ – using the negative space created by the missing trunks as a climate change art metaphor, the absence representing the removal of the world’s ‘lungs’ through continued deforestation.

The tree stumps were exhibited as a “ghost forest” in Trafalgar Square in London in November 2009, and then in Copenhagen in December during the UN’s Climate Change Conference. In July last year the Ghost Forest arrived on the lawn of Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum. The exhibition coincided with the Museum of Natural History’s 150th anniversary last year, and straddled the UN International Year of Biodiversity 2010 and the UN International Year of the Forest 2011. The trees will remain in Oxford until July 2012.

Unloading the DenyaThe 10 tree stumps in Ghost Forest – most of which fell naturally in adverse weather conditions – come from the Suhuma forest reserve in Western Ghana, a selectively logged concession run by John Bitar and Co, one of the largest timber producers in Ghana. They operate under strict licence from the Ghana Forestry Commission and run a Chain of Custody tracking system.

Ghost Forest is a carbon neutral project – following input from Climate Care, Ghost Forest’s carbon footprint will be offset by supporting an initiative to introduce efficient cook stoves – Gyapas – in Ghana. Most families in Ghanaian towns and cities cook with charcoal using a metal grate or ‘coal-pot’ that burns very inefficiently and uses a lot of fuel wood. Given the consequences this has for deforestation, The Ghana Stoves project is a very apt one for Ghost Forest to support. In port in Ghana An insulated, efficient cookstove, the Gyapa cooks food more quickly, requires less fuel and is less smoky. They are also, therefore, cheaper for Ghanaian families to run and healthier, and since the stoves are manufactured locally, they help provide employment. See here for more details.