The "Ghost Forest" of Trafalgar Square


Nelson's Column, the famous center point of London's Trafalgar Square, is usually surrounded by museums, crowds and, until recently, hoards of pigeons. But for one week in mid-November, it will be ringed by the stumps of enormous African trees in a shocking display of environmental art.

While artist Angela Palmer compares the stark exhibit to images of a post-World War I landscape, the installation highlights the present, not the past. According to BBC News, the gnarled roots and abbreviated stumps are meant to call attention to tropical deforestation, one of the biggest causes of man-made greenhouse gases. If that's not enough to drive the point home, green laser beams will shine into the night sky, marking the trees' phantom canopies.

Although the trees in the exhibit are not actually victims of deforestation (Palmer sourced all of the stumps from naturally fallen trees), they hail from Ghana, a country that's suffered heavily from illegal logging. Ghana has recently taken a hard stand against the destructive practice, however. It was the first African country to partner with the European Union to outlaw the trade of illegal timber.

If you can't catch the stumps in London this fall, you might be able to catch a glimpse of them in Denmark this winter. The artist hopes the installation will make a reappearance at the Copenhagen Conference on climate change in December.

More: How Deforestation Works How Global Warming Works How do trees affect the weather? Bah, Bah LED Sheep (Environmental art with sheep instead of stumps)

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