[HERI Report No. 9] The Eden Project

조회수 512343 2011.06.28 11:16:42
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The Eden Project recreates the environment and restores the community

The Eden project is located in St Austell, Cornwall, on the tip of south-western peninsula of England. Eden built on the worked out scar on the landscape is one of the most outstanding millennium projects in UK. The name of the project derives from a hope that the dream of Eden would go on.

Cornwall dubbed Land’s End is one of the poorest areas with the average income of 25% less than the average in UK. Copper and tin mines, once the core of the Cornwall’s economy, had remained derelict. The demand for fishing and agriculture products declined due to the cheaper imported goods. In the midst of deprivation, tourism has emerged as the key industry thanks to the unique culture, spectacular landscape, mild climate, and Cornwall’s new attraction: The Eden Project.

The Eden project, which includes the greatest greenhouse in the world, officially opened in 2001. The Eden Trust, the owner of the project, invested 140 million pounds with the support of the Millennium fund. The 8-year old project has been a brilliant success. In 2008, it had attracted more than one million tourists and became the 5th UK tourist attraction.

The Eden Project is chosen as one of the best 50 brands in UK. Among the 32 millennium projects initiated in the country, it is the only project running without any subsidies. 68% of total annual costs (22 million pounds) are retrieved from the ticket revenue and the rest from various programs such as exhibit, education and contributions. The Eden Project proved itself to be a successful example of Social Enterprise worldwide.

The first key success factor of the Eden Project is the ‘environment’. In the tropical forest under the Dome, we explore not only the exotic plants but also our dependence on nature. Much of the Eden Project site reminds us why we ask the global corporations to support and improve the environments in underdeveloped countries.

The second key factor is the ‘community’. My interview with more than 20 people involved the phrase ‘community first.’ Some of the examples are, “We always think about how to help poor people of in the region.”, “When purchasing food, we consider the community first and quality is next.”, “We help them get the traditional barley bread.” and, “The main purpose of building eco-town is to help the poor miners who had lost their jobs.”  By 2008, Eden has contributed more than 900 million pounds for the regional economy.

‘Community as the first priority’ is what makes The Eden Project different from other 31 millennium projects. Consideration for the people, commitment to the community and strong desire to preserve their nature are the reasons for success.

The leadership of Tim Smit, the CEO of the Eden Project helped the commercial success. With community and environment in mind, he reproduced the ‘Eden paradise,’ constructing gigantic domes in china clay pits which have been deserted for 170 years. The project gathered nationwide spotlight. More than half a million had visited the construction site even before the official opening to see enormous size and clandestine concept.

Municipal government of Cornwall contributed substantial part for the success of the Project. Cornwall Development Company (CDC), 100% subsidiary of Cornwall government, is the supporting body. CDC’s strategy was to transform the poor region into knowledge-based rural community. This concept built the foundation for strong partnership between the Eden Project and the regional government.

Korean government is building a greenhouse in Seocheon, Chungnam province, mid-western part of Korea. The size of the ‘National Ecological Institute,’ named as EcoPlex by far exceeds that of the Eden Project. The construction started in July 2009. It is supposed to be finished by 2012. 

Korean government envisages EcoPlex as ‘Disneyland of the species’. But the concrete vision is still out of sight. The catchphrase of ‘commitment to the well-being of the community’ is hollowing over the debate table. The charismatic leadership such as Tim Smit of the Eden Project is absent.

But the fact that Korea starts a project like EcoPlex shows that there is a strong desire to restore and preserve natural environment in the country. EcoPlex project has been going through a long-time arbitration among many stakeholders. It could be interpreted as a symbolic representation of commitment to the community. 

The site of EcoPlex in the city of Seocheon, one of the poorest regions in Korea, was designated as an industrial complex back in 1989 and remained a deserted tideland since then. There have been a lot of debates how to utilize the land. Out of the final 3 initiatives to vitalize Seocheon, EcoPlex were selected. If the conflicts and disagreements can be resolved, EcoPlex can be a successful project that proves the country’s commitment to the environment and community.


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