Tarnished Earth, a dramatic open air gallery of photographs by Jiri Rezac, telling the story of one of the world’s biggest ecological disasters, has arrived in Edinburgh this month.

The free outdoor exhibition shows how Canada’s magnificent Boreal Forest is being destroyed and polluted by the rush to extract oil from the tar sands just below the surface.

Staged by The Co-operative Group in conjunction with WWF-UK and Greenpeace, Tarnished Earth is touring the UK and has so far been seen by more than five million people. The three metre high installations of astounding images will be displayed in the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, throughout September .

The photographs are illuminated at night and contrast the destruction caused by the oil extraction with the area’s pristine wilderness and the traditional way of life of the indigenous First Nation Cree. The exhibition forms part of The Co-operative’s on-going Toxic Fuels campaign.

Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals and Sustainability at The Co-operative, said: “It is really important that people see for themselves the scale of the environmental destruction which is being done in order to extract oil from tar sands.

“The greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands oil are far greater than those of conventional oil, and its exploitation alone would be sufficient to take the world to the brink of runaway climate change.

“Tarnished Earth vividly portrays the impact tar sands operations are having on this beautiful area of boreal forest which has been home to wildlife and the indigenous Cree nations for thousands of years.”