A petite pervasive Scottish blond woman arrived on Ghanaian soil two years ago with a vision. A bizarre and complicated vision.
She wanted to uproot 10 massive rainforest tree stumps, and have them shipped to the UK. (Each is the size of a gnarled house – note the size of a man beside the uprooted stump in the photo)…
Her name is Angela Palmer and her vision is about to be realized, and the fruits of her labour will comprise the Ghost Forest Project, to be on display in London in November.
Yes, I am not kidding. At a cost of £250,000 for the transport aspect alone, not to mention the logistical nightmare encountered getting them out of the forest, the manpower involved and even libations poured to angered gods in the area….
What is the point of this seemingly indulgent and over-the-top endeavour?
Oh, and the desire to highlight issues of deforestation.
The stumps will be displayed in Trafalgar Square in London from November 16th to 22nd, and then moved once again to Thorvaldsens Plads, Copenhagen, Denmark to coincide with UN Climate Change conference.
Many questions need to be raised here. What is the carbon footprint of this project? What are the costs in total and could the funds have been better allocated in a campaign to highlight climate change?
What is the desired and measurable effect? Is it a mad delusional artist’s self indulgent dream or is it an important and unprecedented step in exposing the issues at hand?
What are the issues at hand?
Deforestation in the tropics accounts for nearly 20 per cent of carbon emissions due to human activities. That’s quite a staggering figure.
Considering that Ghana has lost 90% of its virgin rainforest in the past 50 years, there is definitely a need for a change in practise.
This exhibit will definitely be eye-catching and thought provoking, both in London and Copenhagen. But here where we need it – here where the deforestation persists and where the affects of global climate change will be most harshly felt – what will be the benefit?
Ghanaians know nothing of this project or it’s aims. Apart from those involved in moving these mammoth stumps from the rural areas down to the Takoradi port and schlepping them onboard the cargo ships, it has slipped under the radar. It has missed it’s chance to shock and educate and to inform.
I get visions of Live 8 back in 2005, aimed at raising awareness and money to eliminate African poverty, yet not one African band or contributor was included.
If we want to make a difference in the so-called third world, we need to involve, include and make accountable the communities that need it most.
All is not lost though. In 2008, Ghana became the first country in Africa to enter the VPA (Voluntary Partnership Agreement) with the European Union in an effort to outlaw illegal logging, which incidentally still accounts for over half its harvested timber.
This year, the John Bitar company in Western Ghana where the tree stumps were excavated from, began one of the world's largest private reforestation programmes, which involves planting 25 million trees on degraded land over the next five years.
Meanwhile, back home for me in Accra, on a street I walk by all the time, a massive majestic wonder of a tree was unceremoniously hacked down earlier this year, at the edge of a residential plot. The tree was so big that it blocked the street for days while teams of men hacked the giant corpse into small enough pieces to carry away.
The roots were so hard and big and old, that thy abandoned the job from about 4 feet to the ground…
I kept waiting to see what would be built there in it’s place. What on earth could justify cutting a tree that was centuries old and provided shade and a home to wildlife all it’s days.
Today, on Blogger Action Day, I walked by the familiar corner. The owner of the house has planted some garden plants to hide the eye sore that is the massive base of the tree.
Come on Ghana!!! Let’s value our trees and ourselves!
Start asking about climate change and it’s affects. Let’s not attend seminars on climate change, just to collect our per diems and get the funding.
In the end, Ghana is for Ghana’s children and they deserve a better and stable future without flooding and famine.
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