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The BBC's Jane O'Brien
"Conservation is at the heart of Eden's ethos"
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The BBC's Steve Kingstone
"The aim of all this to teach about the the inter-relation between humans and plants"
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Saturday, 17 March, 2001, 15:44 GMT
Crowds flock to 'Garden of Eden'
Eden AFP
A walkway takes people through the humid zone
The opening of one of the world's largest multi-environment projects in Cornwall, UK, has been a sell-out.

This is not a garden. We are creating a museum and the plants are a series of exhibits

Philip McMillan Browse, horticultural director
The 86m Eden Project attracted 7,000 visitors to its official opening, despite a protest by farmers who said it should not have opened because of the foot-and-mouth crisis.

Visitors queued from 0430GMT on Saturday morning to be the first into what has been described as "the eighth wonder of the world".

It is located in a former clay pit near St Austell and is dominated by two giant, futuristic domes, called biomes, which have been built to recreate the Earth's different climates. Each biome houses thousands of different plant species.

Sustainable development

Calling itself "a gateway into the world of plants and people", the Eden Project aims to show how sustainable development depends on plants.

Eden AFP
The Eden Project is set to become a major tourist attraction
The attraction was full within the first three hours, surprising even the project organisers.

A spokesman said: "Eden has been blessed with popularity from day one, but I do not think any of us expected this.

"People were not being turned away from the complex because it was full up, but we asked them to return later in the day when it would be less crowded."

Farmers' protest

About 30 farmers staged a peaceful protest outside saying the attraction should not have opened because of foot-and-mouth, but the protest did not attract the support of the Cornwall National Farmers' Union (NFU).

A spokesman said it was wrong to send out a signal that the county was effectively closed.

There have been only two confirmed outbreaks in the county, though neighbouring Devon has been one of the worst affected counties with 38 confirmed cases to date.

The Eden Project got the go-ahead from the Ministry of Agriculture (Maff), though disinfectant mats were placed at the entrance.

Eden PA
The entire project is costing 74m ($110m)
The largest of the three domes at Eden is the humid tropics biome, which is tall enough to house Nelson's Column.

Snaking boardwalks lead visitors through 12,000 plants, taking them from the Oceanic Islands to Malaysia and from West Africa to South America.

The project hopes to attract 750,000 visitors annually and will have strong links with schools around the world.

Philip McMillan Browse, Eden's horticultural director, said species were chosen according to how they fitted into the story of man's relationship with plants.

"This is not a garden," he said. "We are creating a museum and the plants are a series of exhibits."

Controlling pests

The plants help to control the climate inside the domes, giving off more water and therefore cooling the air as it gets hotter.

Eden BBC
The project will stress the importance of plants
Birds, insects and reptiles appropriate to the different biomes will live in the domes and will help to control pests.

The entire project is costing 74m ($110m), including 43m from the Millennium Commission.

The Eden Project is working with a range of partners, including the International Institute for Environment and Development, the charity Plantlife, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London, and several university departments.

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15 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
UK's hi-tech 'Garden of Eden'
03 Oct 00 | Sci/Tech
UK's 'Garden of Eden' takes root
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