I heartily recommend a great video called HOME (in various languages) as an introduction to biodiversity. You may disagree with the conclusion but at all events it puts climate change and biodiversity beautifully into context. Climate change is the biggest challenge to the conservation of plant biodiversity. www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqxENMKaeCU
Soil microbes help plants adapt to the changing climate. Researchers at Michigan State University have demonstrated that the work of soil microbes helps plants to survive and to adapt to global changes in the environment, affected by aspects such as: carbon dioxide concentrations, high temperature and rainfall. Climate change is a major threat to biodiversity and the myriad biotic interactions in natural communities can be important mediators in adapting to global change. These factors affect the abundance and composition of microbial populations in the root-zone. Microbes in the soil not only interact with plants but also prompt them to respond to environmental changes. Plants themselves owevare slow to adapt. Microbes are quick to adapt to changing environments through genetic mutation. Most beneficial microbes consist of symbiotic microorganisms such as fungal endophytes and micorrhiza. Although the research was conducted with Brassica rapa, other experiments demonstrate a fall of 58% in fruit production in drought conditions when growing in soil containing microbial populations adapted to high moisture levels, but only 20% where these populations were adapted to dry conditions. Jennifer A Lau and Jay T Lennon. Rapid response of soil microorganisms improve plant fitness in novel environments. www.msu.edu
High summer temperatures On the 12th July 2012, The USDA (US Department of Agriculture) declared a natural disaster in no fewer than 26 States (accounting for about one third of the Country’s farmers) extending right across the Southern most part of the US. The heat wave pushed up the national average temperature to 13.3°C in the 12 month period ending 30th June, the warmest on record. Some States experienced temperatures between 45°C – 49°C, breaking all previous records. More people around the world are beginning to appreciate that climate change is under way and that it is having real time consequences. Various sources including the USDA www.usda.gov and www.ncdc.noaa.gov. These extreme atmospheric events will increasingly impact on agricolture, energy, infrastructure and ecosystems. It was estimated that the high temperatures registered in Europe in 2003 and the combined effects of drought, temperature stress and fires, caused losses of around €10 billion for agricolture, forestry and animal raising. See EU interactive platform Climate Adapt: http://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/web/guest/agriculture-and-forestry
EDEN PROJECT (Retro) Part III should be of particular interest.
The expertise gained in the construction, maintenance and marketing of the Eden Project has provided substantial advisory work in other parts of the world.
The King Abdullah International Gardens in the Riyadh Municipality were conceived in 2007/8. There are few botanical gardens in the Middle East due to extremes of temperature and low humidity and only those plants that have adapted over thouands of years have managed to surivive in the area. The KAIG intends to take on major studies of climatic change and the dry climate.The project is being undertaken by a joint venture between UK company Barton Willmore and Buro Happold: Emergy, Eden Project and the Natural History Museum are the appointed advisors.
In 2015 a project was signed for the creation of a project in Qingdao on thge East Cost of China.
The followowing is a ‘retro’ historical account of early developments at the Eden Project. At that time the Project was naturally infused with a far more scientific interest and responsibility to ensure the best possible planting and care of the plants in the individual biomes. It was also a moment of uncertainty about marketing and how to attract sufficient visitors to cover a substantial part of the running costs. Today it has developed into a much wider more holistic genere – some might say too much a heavily marketed theme park where the level of information does not do justice to the environmemntal and plant sciences contained. But it still remains a very important education venue for schools, other educational institutions and the general public. www.edenproject.com
See below Parts I, II, III & IV in English and Italian as pdf files.
ENVIRONMENTAL SOLUTIONS (Part I)
The Eden Project Mission
The operation of Eden relies on academic and scientific staff. Hidden from the eye of the visitors, is the immense day-to-day work of maintaining the site, that from above gives the impression of a lunar University campus. Eden employs a team of curators and horticultural scientists to assure the correct environmental conditions in the Biomes (during opening hours, a compromise is made in the Humid Tropics Biome between what the plants need and what the visitors can support) and healthy plants in terms of growth and nutrition and freedom of insect pests and diseases. In such large structures, this is complicated pioneering work that requires a high level of knowledge, skill and determination There is also the work of indoor and outdoor landscape design, transportation and planting. New plants are sourced from abroad and acclimatized in the Project’s Watering Lane Nursery before being planted in the biomes. Other plants are raised from seed or grown on from cuttings. Scientists are also involved in data processing and taxonomic identification (Eden belongs to ‘PlantNet’ that connects Botanical Institutes throughout the world). On-going research also concerns temporary exhibits, domesticated crops and their stories. The attitudes of scientists and other professionals toward how the Eden Project should undertake its mission might well differ from those who are more involved in presenting Eden to the general public; a botanist might assert that Eden is a place to showcase plants not art! But in reality the display features are complementary; one side highlights the other and both can learn from one another.
A great many changes have taken place since this article was written, on the basis of a number of visits and interviews. Grateful thanks to members of The Eden Project staff. Edward Bent July 2003.
EDEN PROJECT PART I (Environmental considerations).pdf English
EDEN PROJECT PART II (Greenhouses with a difference). pdf English
EDEN PROJECT PART III (Sourcing plants and looking after them). pdf English
EDEN PROJECT PART IV (Phase 4 and the Dry Tropics Biome). pdf English
IL PROGETTO EDEN I (Il Perché?). pdf Italiano
IL PROGETTO EDEN II (Serre con una differenza). pdf Italiano
IL PROGETTO EDEN III (Approvvigionamento e cura delle piante). pdf Italiano
Il PROGETTO EDEN IV (Fase 4 e il Biome Tropicale Secco – non costruito). pdf Italiano
Geothermal Energy for Eden Project An engineered geothermal plant (EGS) is being constructed on one of the car parks of the Eden Project site at Bodelva, near St. Austell in Cornwall. The Eden Project is a large botanical and educational base for studying plants and their impact on our environment. Up to 4MW of electricity will power the Eden Project, the surplus going to the National Grid. It will also provide hot water for heating the Eden Project biomes. Two boreholes will be driven about 4.5 km deep and a heat exchanger engineered within the rock by fracturing. Water pumpted down through one of the boreholes will be heated by the rock and exit through the second borehole at a temperature of 180°C. Cornwall is avanguardia with this technology and the first electricity and hot water generated is due in late 2013. The project is a partnership Eden Project and EGS Energy. www.egs-energy.com www.edenproject.com
Edward Bent (c) 2013 HORTCOM