Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

Life Sciences sponsors Creator of Eden Project’s lecture

Monday, 01 December 2008

Tim Smit

Tim Smit CBE, the creator of the awe inspiring Eden Project and the beautiful Lost Gardens of Heligan addressed a rapt audience at a public lecture on Wednesday evening, 12 November, at Brookes main hall, Gipsy Lane Campus.

Tim Smit CBE, the creator of the awe inspiring Eden Project and the beautiful Lost Gardens of Heligan addressed a rapt audience at a public lecture on Wednesday evening, 12 November, at Brookes main hall, Gipsy Lane Campus.

Before his talk, Tim was welcomed by Professors Linda King, Dean and Chris Hawes, Director of Research of the School of Life Sciences. He was then invited to afternoon tea in the School’s Sinclair building with environmental researchers and a host of under- and postgraduate students currently pursuing environmental-related degrees.

As well as a chance for Tim to learn more about the School’s activities, staff and students got the opportunity to ask questions and find out about Tim’s inspiration for the Eden Project and Lost Gardens of Heligan.

Commenting on the aspects of the Eden project of which Tim is most proud, he said: “We intended the building of the project to be a real blow for optimism because it was so unlikely for just an ordinary gang of people to be doing it. The ambition behind it was to take the most derelict place imaginable and to create life in it then demonstrate how clever human beings are by making something totally fit for purpose.”

Chris Laing, PhD Student in Environmental Ecology really valued the opportunity to meet Tim Smit: ”The concept behind the Eden project is inspirational. It was great to chat to Tim and learn how his ideas are realised in today's infrastructure.”

The Eden Project is not just a massively popular tourist attraction but is also a vehicle for local enterprise, which raises awareness of issues such as energy saving, waste management, and recycling.

The importance of sustainability struck a chord with the audience, not least Michael Esvelt of the Environmental Information Exchange (EiE). "After listening to Tim Smit's perspective on the environment, I was debating how to tell him that EiE helps businesses install low energy lights, arrange recycling, switch off computers at night, and so on particularly after hearing that Tim felt sustainability was much more about communication and building communities than lights or computers. I was about to tell one of his "public lies" in front of witnesses for the sake of ensuring it would really happen when I realised that I didn't have to. In the last few EiE projects, we've had much more success spending time with staff from procurement, finance, maintenance and IT departments in local businesses to help them build workplaces that are in all ways sustainable."

Dr Neil Bailey of Wildknowledge, developers of mobile applications for recording information in the field also brought Tim up-to-date by showing him an Interactive Tour of Heligan on a mobile phone. “We share Tim’s passion for finding new ways to reconnect people with their environment. Sometimes this requires a fresh approach, which is what projects like Heligan and Eden deliver so successfully... Tim could really see the potential of our work as a way of reaching out to today’s younger generation” he added.

Image: Tim Smit with environmental Undergraduate students from left; Nicholas Bowater; James Wood; Sally Wright; Jamie Wilson; Russell Payne.