Innovation That Matters

The ‘Ghost Forest’ project | Photo source Maya Lin Studio

Artist installs ghost forest of dead trees in New York City

Arts & Entertainment

Standing in stark contrast with the living trees in the park, the Ghost Forest's skeletal forms will invite observers to confront the realities of climate change

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Spotted: Artist and designer Maya Lin has installed 49 dead cedar trees in Midtown Manhattan’s Madison Square Park, to raise awareness of ecosystem die-off due to climate change.

The “Ghost Forest” project was commissioned by Madison Square Park Conservancy, as an effort to make art that demonstrates the devastating effects of deforestation. Standing in stark contrast with the living trees in the park, the Ghost Forest’s skeletal forms will invite observers to confront the reality of the strain put on ecosystems by climate change.

“We are faced with an enormous ecological crisis, but I also feel that we have a chance to showcase what can be done to help protect species and significantly reduce climate change emissions by changing our relationship to the land itself,” says Lin.

Lin wanted to source the trees as close to Manhattan as possible, which is why the trees came from New Jersey Pine Barrens. The 49 trees had been damaged by issues related to the climate crisis (wind events, fire, sea-level rise, saltwater infiltration and bad forestry practices) and were being cleared in a regeneration project. 

The dead Atlantic white cedar trees have been erected on The Oval Lawn of the park. The installation will run for six months, during which time the park will visibly change with the seasons, while the dead cedars will turn even more spectral as they decompose.

A soundscape composed by Lin also accompanies the Ghost Forest, which educates listeners on some of the native animals that once inhabited Manhattan, such as the grey fox and the American black bear. In addition, Lin and the Conservancy are holding a programme of public events with a focus on nature-based solutions to climate change, including lectures by leading specialists in the field.

Written By: Katrina Lane

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