14 January, 2014

Rainforest Biome at the Eden Project

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

This geodesic biome is tall enough to take the Tower of London with the waterfalls cascading down over an impressive drop. You climb so high up in humid heat, despite the worst that a Cornish summer can throw at you, that there is a cool room half way up (in ‘West Africa’).

Eden Project waterfall July 2009

It was blissful to come in from the rain and defrost that July 2009 day in Cornwall, while drying our sodden clothes – but the outside was too interesting to miss. Weather or NOT!

Eden Project waterfall 2009

You are now in the humid tropics. Here you will recognise many of your coddled house plants, at home in warmth, humidity and steady rain (but with automated misters, and ground level irrigation, so you don’t actually have to WALK through the teeming rain). The rain forests control our climate – and we are clearing them as fast as we can. Visit mangrove swamps, which would protect the coast against tsunamis, if they were in turn conserved. You can walk through an actual Malaysian garden, smell and touch the plants you read about. In “West Africa” there are totem poles carved from timber used in Falmouth docks, trees which once grew in West Africa…

Eden Project rain forest

We need so much that comes to us from the Tropics – spices, rubber (car tyres),soya (to feed cattle and make hamburgers, or bio-diesel), cocoa (Fairtrade chocolate please!), palms for palm oil, coffee, sugar (35 kg a year, not me!), mangoes (read a wonderful novel once about blue mangoes), bananas (my mother remembered lady fingers, which we don’t see any more, because the big plantations are all standardised), bamboo (scaffolding and flooring), pineapples, cashew nuts.

6 million hectares of primary rain forest
– are lost or modified each year
– every 10 seconds, the area of this Rainforest Biome you are walking through. 

Rain forest lost

Figures don’t mean much to me, but walking around and bumping into these banners again and again, until I could recite the words, without needing to read them first – that focused my mind! There are projects to restore and rehabilitate the rain forest. Richard’s Bay Minerals in South Africa is restoring the dune forests, after mining

John Donne's - No man is an island - at Eden Project

Finally think about tropical islands, like the Seychelles, with the Coco-de-Mer. Imagine, with global weirding, as the ice melts, and the sea rises, and your home disappears under the sea. Imagine if your whole island, slowly, and steadily, disappears beneath the sea.

More information at Eden Project. I was sad to read in BBC News Cornwall they show a deficit of £6.3m for the year ending March 2013. It had been hit by the 2012 Olympics, poor summer weather, and the economic downturn.

In the Outdoor Biome we saw restored wildflowers on a Cornish heath.
Saving the best till last in the Mediterranean Biome.

Pictures by Diana and Jurg Studer 
of  Elephant's Eye on False Bay

(If you mouse over teal blue text, it turns seaweed red. Those are my links.
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  1. So much beauty...so much sadness. Thanks for doing your bit.

  2. Thanks for this thought-provoking post, Diana. I see that it was from 2009--before I was blogging and before I knew you. So I'm glad you re-posted it again, so I could see it. The Eden Project looks like a fascinating and educational place. Beautiful photos, too!

  3. I enjoyed seeing Eden through your eyes, Diana. It is sad they made a loss, I hope they did better this year; they have lots of initiatives to get people coming back as well as all the incentives to book early, and arrive by public transport. This project derserves to succeed and is a wonderful day out for everyone whether interested in gardens or not; the planet belongs to everyone after all.

  4. If we are ever in Cornwall again, I'll go back to see new changes.

  5. The rain forest biome would be the first one I'd go and look at if I ever get to visit the Eden Project.

  6. I like the idea of seeing such a large garden and knowing that is the space we are losing. Actually walking through the space would put it in such perspective. Global warming is changing even our island at an alarming rate. Read an article recently that noted the land registry has had to remove taxes from certain pieces of property as they have disappeared into the ocean. Winter ice no longer forms to stabilize the shores and the winter storms are eroding the earth, pulling it out to sea.

    1. is that not alarming the farmers on Prince Edward Island?

  7. Unfortunately, nightmarishly, the melting of the ice is seen as an opportunity to get at the minerals under the formerly inaccessible frozen ground. I hope one day to go to Cornwall to visit this important and amazing project,in the meantime I'll visit it virtually. Surely it wouldn't fail through lack of funding?

    1. The Eden Project is an integral part of the Cornish economy (employment, tourism, accommodation, restaurants, transport). They are working on solutions. Moving from 'been there done that' to I - want to go back and see the new section on Chile in the Mediterranean Biome.