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Appalachia: Mountaintops to Moonscapes


Appalachia: Mountaintops to Moonscapes

Appalachia: Mountaintops to Moonscapes

The ancient mountain forests of Appalachia are being felled. What remains is an eerie, barren, and lunar landscape of rough-hewn rock. In Appalachia: Mountaintops to Moonscapes, Alan Gignoux witnesses the devastating effects of mountaintop removal in America’s coal heartland.

Appalachia in Virginia is known for two very different reasons. First: as America’s “resource colony”. At its height – one hundred years ago – this region supplied two thirds of the nation’s coal reserves. And second: as one of the poorest, least educated, and least healthy region of North America. 

Coal mining has been part of the socio-economic fabric of Appalachia for more than a century. But a move away from traditional shaft mining techniques has been devastating local communities. The difference-maker is mountaintop removal – the now-favoured technique of quite literally blowing the top off a mountain to reveal the internal resources. Mountaintop removal has taken away employment from local towns. It has also destroyed the landscape, depleting natural habitats and causing a variety of pollution-related health problems among the local population. 

Alan’s project, Appalachia: Mountaintops to Moonscapes, shows the scale of deforestation and the drastic changes in landscape across Appalachia. It also documents the human side of the story – speaking with numerous local people about the impact of a changing industry upon communities in Virginia.

The project has been featured on foto8.com

Head over to the Galleries page to see images from Appalachia: Mountaintops to Moonscapes.

Watch the Appalachia documentary below.

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Appalachia: Mountaintops to Moonscapes

Coal mining has been part of the socio-economic fabric of Appalachia for over a century, but a move away from traditional shaft mining to mountaintop removal methods has devastated local communities by taking away employment, destroying the landscape and causing pollution-related health problems.

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Appalachia: Mountaintops to Moonscapes

In an effort to extract natural resources, the ancient mountain forests of the Appalachian Mountains are being felled. What remains is an eerie, barren, and almost lunar landscape of rough-hewn rock.