Chinese Eden Projects to begin construction this year

By ANGUS McNEICE | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-08-17 16:33

Chinese visitors will be able to visit their own version of Cornwall's Eden Project in Qingdao in Shandong, where construction is scheduled to start this year.

It will be one of three versions due to be built in China.

The Eden Project's biomes in Cornwall attract over a million visitors each year-more than the Houses of Parliament. The giant, climate controlled biomes contain plant life from all over the world, and artists including Amy Winehouse and Elton John have played at concerts at the site. The project also features in the 2002 James Bond film Die Another Day.

Eden International will oversee five new ecotourism attractions built outside the UK -three in China and one each in New Zealand and Australia.

Eden founder Sir Tim Smit said an interview with Wang Shi, chairman of real estate enterprise China Vanke, in China Daily, led to developers inquiring about bringing the concept out to China.

Smit said: "Shi did an interview in the newspaper in which he said that he thought the Eden Project was one of the most extraordinary things in the world. After which we had a dozen major developers from China asking if we would do something with them."

Eden selected Jinmao, a Shanghai-based real estate developer, which provided a site on the outskirts of Qingdao, Shandong Province, in 2015. Following planning and design, construction on the 100 million-pound ($131.3 million) build will begin this year.

In Cornwall, the biomes were built on an exhausted clay mine, and Smit says new sites will similarly regenerate damaged land. The Qingdao site will bring plant life back to an area of land at the confluence of two rivers that is currently barren due to a buildup of mineral deposits. The hydro-powered site will explore the theme of water.

A second project will restore a degraded site outside the city of Yan'an, Shaanxi Province. A third will be based at Sheng Lu Vineyard in Beijing, where Eden will run education programs on the environment and sustainable agriculture.

Smit said on his visits to China he encountered a "passion for healing the environment" in the younger generation. He aims to promote interest in agriculture, an industry with an aging workforce worldwide.

"There is the idea that it is China's place to lead the world on this," he said. "When you look at the pronouncements by President Xi Jinping, his analysis of the state of agriculture and agricultural training is in line with Eden's view."

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