Massive Gnarled Tree Trunks Arrive at England's Oxford University

the ghost forestBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

These massive tree trunks, part of the Ghost Forest Project, have been travelling around the world since 2009. First spotted in London's Trafalgar Square, en route to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, now they are resting their weary branches in Oxford, UK for a year.

The Ghost Forest tree stumps -- most of which fell naturally in adverse weather conditions -- come from the Suhuma forest reserve in Western Ghana. They have been transported to highlight the deforestation in countries like their native Ghana.

the ghost forestBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

The expedition has been put together by artist Angela Palmer. She chose trees from Ghana because it has lost 90% of its virgin rainforest -- however, the government has now changed its ways and is regulating its logging carefully.

the ghost forestBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

The ten different tree trunks are artfully placed in the front the lawn of Oxford University's Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum. There they rest, looking ancient and gnarled, as adults and children come to look and be photographed in front of them.

The idea, says the artist, is to 'present a series of rainforest tree stumps as a "ghost forest" -- using the negative space created by the missing trunks as a metaphor for climate change, the absence representing the removal of the world's "lungs" through continued deforestation'

Even Michelle Obama made a visit with a local school. She was given a piece of the 300-year-old Denya tree.

Now a six-month initiative has been organized around the trees entitled "I Touched the Rainforest." During the next six months every school child in Oxfordshire -- some 101,000 -- will be invited to come and literally touch, and smell, the Ghost Forest. In addition there will be tree plantings.

the ghost forestBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

One other rather bizarre event was held in conjunction with the debut of the trees: a Grand Banquet of Rainforest Insects. Experts discussed whether insects could offer a viable alternative to meat in the future and insects brought by the Colombian Ambassador from his country were cooked by a celebrity chef and food writer and eaten by the great and good of the area.

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