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Note: This article is from Conservation Magazine, the precursor to Anthropocene Magazine. The full 14-year Conservation Magazine archive is now available here.

Loss Aversion

March 8, 2013

Iain Woodhouse, an expert in remote sensing at the University of Edinburgh, spends a lot of time looking at the forests of the world through the eyes of satellites. On the side, though, he’s recently taken an on-the-ground—and, dare we say, painterly—approach to the global problem of deforestation.

Seeking a way to visualize forests that have been lost, Woodhouse struggled with how to draw attention to something that doesn’t exist. So he loaded up three recognizable paintings into Photoshop and did away with the trees. The results say a lot: a deforested world—whether on canvas or out in nature—is definitely missing something.


A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat, 1884


Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun, Vincent Van Gogh, 1889


The Hay Wain, John Constable, 1821

“Deforested” images courtesy of Iain Woodhouse

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