Page last updated at 10:31 GMT, Monday, 15 June 2009 11:31 UK

Ghost forest in Trafalgar Square

Tree stump in African rainfores
Naturally fallen trees will become a dramatic artwork

A 'ghost rainforest' of huge tree stumps from the jungles of Africa is to form a dramatic artwork in London's Trafalgar Square.

The display aims to highlight the threat of deforestation.

It will surround Nelson's Column - which at 169 feet is about the same height as the trees while alive.

By night green laser beams will shine upwards to mark where the trees would have reached if they were still standing in their rainforest in Ghana.

The project is the brainchild of artist Angela Palmer who ventured to a remote logging camp in the west of the country to locate naturally fallen trees for the exhibit.

Angela Palmer in logging camp
They'll evoke the stark landscapes of the First World War where only the splintered tree stumps remained
Angela Palmer, Artist

Her hope is to raise awareness of the rate at which tropical forests are being cleared and the resulting impact on global warming.

The destruction of tropical rainforests currently releases nearly one-fifth of all man-made greenhouse gases.

"Just as it is shocking to see a rhino with its horn hacked off, so it will be shocking to see these stumps - evidence of man's hand in an act that could devastate our world.

"For some people, the stumps may appear to be beautiful sculptures.

"But for others they'll evoke the stark landscapes of the First World War where only the splintered tree stumps remained."

The artwork has the support of the authorities in Ghana which after years of heavy logging became the first African country to sign an agreement with the EU outlawing trade in illegally-felled timber.

The stumps will be cleaned for shipping by one of Ghana's largest timber producers, John Bitar. A British firm, Timbmet, is helping with logistics.

One of Britain's leading rainforest specialists, Professor Yadvinder Malhi of Oxford University, is providing advice and plans to study the trees' roots.

In an operation starting at midnight on November 15, the 'ghost forest' will be hauled into position ready to be unveiled the following morning.

The office of the Mayor of London has given permission for the stumps to remain in Trafalgar Square for a week.

Oxford-based Angela Palmer hopes the artwork will then be moved to Copenhagen for the crucial United Nations conference on climate change in December. The fate of the rainforests will be high on the agenda.

"My intention is that on the last five days of the Copenhagen Conference, a lumberjack will chop the stumps into thousands of pieces - an unforgettable reminder to press into the hands of each delegate there."

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