Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How the Eden Project Works

Long-term Goals
An aerial view of the finished structure
An aerial view of the finished structure
Photo courtesy Apex Photo Agency, Photographer Nick Gregory

The main goal of the Eden Project is to educate the public about the natural world. Specifically, Eden's creators want to expose visitors to the issue of sustainable development -- using natural resources conscientiously so they will continue to be available for human use in the future. The facility is intended to be an entertaining attraction to tourists, but the Eden team also wants to further environmental research and education.

To this end, the Eden Project will open its doors to a wide variety of companies and organizations interested in sustainable development, ecological science and many related areas of study. As the project evolves, its creators hope the site will become a meeting place for anybody interested in these issues. The idea is to bring researchers, writers, students and others together to advance the progress of science and society.

The Eden team is already developing many new programs for younger students. Some exhibits will incorporate elements from popular children's books, such as the "Harry Potter" series and classics by Roald Dahl, in order to give kids a comfortable way of accessing the world of science. The Eden educational division is also setting up a program that would link schools from around the world. In this way, kids could learn about the natural environments in other parts of the world, as well as the cultures that interact with them.

One of the tropical butterflies released into the Humid Tropics Biome
One of the tropical butterflies released into the Humid Tropics Biome
Photo courtesy Apex Photo Agency, Photographer Simon Burt

The Eden team will also keep working on the greenhouses themselves, of course. New plants are added all the time, and in spring 2001, butterfly expert Christopher Wood began introducing exotic butterfly species to the enclosed biomes. To avoid a population boom that could disturb the plants, the plan is to introduce only male butterflies. If the butterfly project goes well, the Eden team may introduce other animal species in the future.

At this point, Eden's creators have left everything wide open -- they want Eden to evolve naturally. The building is even designed so that it can change over time. The ETFE pillows are built to detach easily from the steel frame, so they can be replaced should a more efficient material come along. If the Eden Project is a success, it will continue to expand and develop in the decades to come.

To learn more about Eden Project activities, check out the official site. See the links section on the next page for related information.