Visitors to the Eden Project can now trek across an aerial rope bridge, shelter from tropical rain and travel through clouds thanks to the opening of a thrilling new rainforest walkway. The Weather Maker, developed with academic support from the Met Office and University of Exeter, is the latest phase of the Rainforest Canopy Walkway and will enable everyone to explore the world’s largest indoor rainforest from the treetops. Visitors can experience how rainforests affect weather and regulate the climate and see why the conservation of the world’s rainforests is vital for all of our futures.
The Weather Maker includes a wobbly canopy rope bridge stretching 23 metres across the canopy between two of the tallest trees in the 50 metre-high biome, a fully-accessible cloud bridge where visitors can travel through swirling rainforest clouds and get a sense of how they reflect sunlight and help cool the planet, and a rain shack where visitors can shelter from a tropical rainstorm and discover how rainforests make rain.
Visitors can also see a Rainforest Research Camp displaying the latest research from scientists at the University of Exeter who are working in the tropics exploring links between climate change and rainforests, a Climate Platform featuring an installation that explores the relationships between the atmosphere and the climate and interactive exhibits include the transpiration tree where visitors can pump water upwards to see how it travels through the tree and into the sky to form clouds.
Dr Jo Elworthy, Eden’s Director of Interpretation, said:
“Fifteen years after opening, our forest has grown sufficiently to take our visitors into the treetops. From on high, visitors will be able to explore the forest’s hidden secrets and discover how the world’s hot, steamy rainforests help to regulate the climate. You’ll be able to cross our high-level canopy rope bridge, travel through heat-reflecting clouds and shelter from tropical rain. We’ll also be showing you how you can get involved and support projects or take actions to conserve the forest. Conserving forests will help regulate our climate.”
Dr Ted Feldpausch, Tropical Forest Ecologist at the University of Exeter, said:
“The Eden Project continues to innovate to educate and to bring experiences from tropical rainforests to the public. From drought, to fire, to forest-climate interactions, the Eden Project communicates important properties and issues facing rain forests in ways that are engaging and sometimes downright torrential. Visiting the tropical biome is an excellent opportunity for my Geography students to see, feel, and hear the ecosystems we study in the tropical forest module I teach at the University of Exeter. ”
The Weather Maker will be complemented by a new planting scheme featuring colourful bromeliads – epiphytic plants which grow on trees, stumps and branches in the tropics. Bromeliads are especially adapted to thrive in the rainforest by anchoring themselves into the canopy and catching rainwater in their rosette-shaped leaves, supporting wildlife such as frogs, lizards and salamanders.
This latest stage of the Canopy Walkway has been designed and delivered by Blue Forest, Tate Harmer Architects, John Grimes Partnership, Ward Williams Associates, Ease and the Eden Project Rainforest Canopy Walkway project team.
The Canopy Walkway highlights the importance and wonder of rainforests. The first phase, completed in 2013, includes paths set in the cliff face and stretching out through the rainforest. It introduces visitors to those who live and work in the forest, from indigenous and tribal peoples to canopy scientists.
Professor Richard Betts, Climate Scientist at the University of Exeter and the Met Office, said:
“Once again the team at Eden have done a stunning job. Not only can visitors enjoy a unique perspective on the forest from above, they can also learn about the vital scientific research into rainforests and climate.”
Near to the roof of the Biome there is also an aerial Rainforest Lookout, opened in 2010, which gives visitors a bird’s eye view of the tropical canopy.
The Canopy Walkway has been supported by a number of educational and scientific foundations and individuals, including the Garfield Weston Foundation, Bunzl plc, The Kirby Laing Foundation and donors to the Eddie George Memorial Appeal as well as donations from Eden Project Members and visitors.