Dead Eden



A rainforest robin
Originally uploaded by viralbus

During our stay in Devon, we went on a daytrip to the Eden Project near St. Austell in Cornwall.

It’s supposed to be one of the UK’s main tourist attractions, and most visitors did look very happy.

I thought it was an eery place, however.

Basically, it’s supposed to be “a living theatre of plants”, and its “mission is to tell the world the story of plants that changed history”.

I guess it does that very well (although there seems to be an emphasis on plants used in herbal medicine), but it also achieves it literally: There are no animals!

Compare it to the delightful Randers Regnskov in Denmark, and the difference couldn’t be greater.

Randers Regnskov is teeming with life, but Eden’s huge greenhouses are strangely quiet – no insects, no birds, nothing.

To me, it breaks the illusion completely: No matter how well they reconstruct a Mediterranean landscape, an indivisible part of that consists of the background noices made by the animals. How can you believe even for a second that you’re in a rainforest if nothing’s moving and the fruit is rotting away uneaten on the branches of the trees?

To be fair, the place is not completely dead. There are plenty of Cornish ants, and I also spotted a robin next to their banana plantation, but that just made the absence of tropical fauna even more painful.

I wonder how they keep the place so barren. Not only are there no animals, but I didn’t see many weeds, either, and in a tropical climate you’d expect every square millimetre to be overgrown within a fortnight.

I think I hated the place so much because it was so stunning. The greenhouses (or biomes, as they call them) are enormous and full of the most amazing plants.

If they handed over the site to the people behind Randers Regnskov, it could become a true Eden.

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