More than 50 top-end, well-paid jobs will be created in Cornwall while millions of pounds in franchise fees are expected to flow back to Britain as Eden Project expands around the globe.
The iconic Eden Project is looking to build new Edens around the globe as part of new ambitious international expansion plan.
Already plans are well advanced for three Edens to be built in China with more in the pipeline for Tasmania in Australia and in New Zealand.
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Speaking to Cornwall Live, Sir Tim Smit, co-founder of Eden Project, and David Harland, the chief executive of the newly established Eden Project International Ltd (Epil), which will oversee the creation of all Eden projects around the world, said Cornwall will become “the mothership and a test bed in research and development”.
A new Eden Project could start see the light of day in Yan’an, China, from 2019.
Sir Tim said: “Where better to test all these new ideas than Cornwall? We want Eden Cornwall to become the mothership and definitely be at the heart of all these new Edens.”
All the design and creative work, educational, research and development jobs will be based at Eden near St Austell.
Sir Tim believed some 50 jobs will be created over the coming two years while thousands more will be created in situ at the various new Edens.
He added: “While each new site will be unique and will demonstrate in its own context our relationship with the natural world, such as our relationship with water, or the food chain, there will be a flow of ideas and revenues coming back to Cornwall.”
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Mr Harland said work on the first new Eden sites in China will start in 2019.
Sir Tim Smit, co-founder of Eden Project and the driving force behind Eden going global.
All together 12 new Edens are planned for “every inhabited continent”.
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Sir Tim added: “The advanced economies of the world have not changed the world. Eden is unique in that it provides a platform for understanding how important the natural world is. A lot of people think that a sustainable world is just carrying on as we are but without carbon. That’s not the case. We’re facing cataclysmic change.
“Any country whose economy is turning to renewable energies will be OK but it will be bad for countries and people whose money is locked into hedge funds with a focus on fossil fuel.
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“Cornwall needs to step up the change and raise its aspirations. Falmouth University, for example, has added enormous muscle to Cornwall in showing that we are a place where you come to make a career and not just end one.
“It is our job to convince young people that they can have intellectually and financially rewarding jobs here. Our role is to make sure that everyone believes that it can happen here.”
Eden’s iconic biomes will be built in China and other countries as part of a major international expansion programme.
The organisation said that Epil has been established as a new entity to partner with like-minded organisations around the world to deliver the Eden mission and to deliver social and ecological benefits during a time of global environmental decline and social disruption.
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Each country where new Eden projects will be created will invest in its own project to make it unique to its own environment and vision but Eden HQ will also take a share of the investment, in cash, design and ideas.
In return Eden Cornwall will take a share of the profits – and ideas – when the new Edens are up and running.
WATCH: Eden unveils its rope bridge inside the rainforest biome.
Mr Harland said: “There is no question that in countries such as China and the USA, there is a different mentality towards investment than in the UK or Europe. They invest in ten projects and are not worried if six of them fail because the other four will succeed.
“In Europe we are much more worried about the failures as opposed to focus on the successes. That’s why Eden needs to invest in these projects to show that it can work.”
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The launch of the new company comes after four successive years of consistently healthy trading by the Eden Project, which first opened in a disused china clay quarry near St Austell in Cornwall in 2001.
Its latest accounts, for 2016/17, showed a cash surplus from trading of more than £1.6 million. Turnover and visitor numbers have also increased significantly.
Inside the rainforest biome at Eden Project Cornwall. Picture by Emily Whitfield-Wicks
During 2016, 4% more people than the previous year visited Eden and numbers in December were the best ever for that month. For the first time since 2011, Eden welcomed more than one million visitors in a 12-month period.
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In its first 16 years, Eden has attracted more than 19 million visitors and generated £1.7 billion for the regional economy.
Sir Tim added: “Who was crazy enough 16 years ago to invest £140 million in a hole in the ground? Yet we’ve ploughed £2 billion back into Cornwall’s economy.
“Our new projects will not endanger Eden Cornwall whatsoever. The new company has been set up so if any or all these new projects were to fail, Eden Cornwall would be protected.”
Eden Qingdao will explore the theme of water and its importance for life on earth. The project is still on the drawing board, with construction due to begin later this year.
As with similar projects it will link with other Eden Project centres around the world, sharing content and programmes.
The second major project in China is in the historic city of Yan’an, famed for being the end of Chairman Mao’s Long March and north of the Xian, home of the terracotta warriors.
This project will explore the theme of land and soil and its importance for life on earth. The project will showcase ecological restoration as a vital tool for the future and restore a degraded site just outside the city into a fertile valley full of flowers, agriculture, craft and education.
The third Eden project in China is based at Sheng Lu Vineyard in Beijing. The aim is to create a place to reconnect with nature. Education and training programmes will run from here, offering the chance for children and adults to play in natural environment.
Eden has been asked to provide support in turning the vineyard into a profitable and educational visitor attraction as well as supporting education and offering horticultural and landscaping advice.
Macquarie Point Development Corporation (MPDC) of Hobart, Tasmania, approached Eden as the corporation is looking to regenerate an environmentally-damaged piece of land (15 hectares) around the port area. MPDC contacted Eden as it was seeking a flagship/anchor for the mixed-use development.
Hobart itself is a rapidly developing city with an alternative side which has been brought to the fore by the Museum of Old & New Art.
This project fits with Eden’s ethos as it will transform a polluted, discarded site as well as ensuring the Eden message can reach a new audience.
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In Christchurch, Eden is working with a local trust to develop plans for a social enterprise and attraction in an area of the earthquake-damaged Red Zone.
Here, Eden will explore stories of nature and culture and will include restoration of native ecology along the iconic River Avon shoreline. There will be benefits for the community and tourism with the aim of boosting visitors to the city again.
The project is currently in the early stages of concept development.
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Source: Cornwall Live