The Eden Project is a popular visitor attraction in Cornwall, UK. It has become one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions since its opening on 17 March 2001. Now the ecological project is working to spread its message across the globe and its first overseas undertaking is taking shape in Qingdao City in east China's Shandong Province.
The Eden project is the largest ecological greenhouse in the world built on a former clay pit. Its stunning rainforest biome is evidence of how things can be turned around on environmentally damaged land. It transformed an industrial wasteland into a paradise of brightly colored flowers and exotic tropical trees. The project has attracted more than 19 million visitors and generated 1.7 billion pounds (around 2.2 billion US dollars) for the economy of the area.
The project turns to be a real success in respect of ecology and tourism after 16 years. Now the people behind it are planning to take the project's biomes across the globe. And the first big overseas project in the coastal city of Qingdao will be built on a large area of environmentally damaged land located at the confluence of two rivers where the soil is very salty and high in nitrates.
"It is factory land that needs regeneration," said David Harland, chief executive of Eden Project International. "Traditionally, it had prawn-breeding, it was a salt pan. It is an incredible site. It is on a peninsular.
"We imagine it a bit like Sydney Opera House site was at Sydney before the Opera House was built. What you will see there will be a large biome. It will tell the story of water more than plants, and there will be a number of supporting pavilions on that site."
After two years' of preparation, construction is expected to begin in 2018 and it is projected to open to visitors at the end of 2020. But the design of Eden China will be very different from its original in England.
The Qingdao project is one of three planned Eden centers in China. The second will restore a degraded valley in the historic city of Yan'an, famed for being the end of Chairman Mao's Long March. And the third one will be based at a Beijing vineyard that was formerly a rubbish dump.
Besides China, Eden is also focusing on Australia and New Zealand, aiming to create a network of projects that can connect people with each other and the living world.