Thursday, August 26, 2010 - 11:39

Adventurer Bear Grylls abseiled into the dense tropical foliage of the Eden Project's Rainforest Biome to launch one of the attraction's most exciting developments ever.

The star of Channel 4's Born Survivor was officially opening the Rainforest Lookout, a new aerial platform at the top of the 165-foot-high Biome – which is taller than the Tower of London.

Visitors can now get a unique bird’s eye view of the biggest greenhouse in the world and see the tops of giant trees such as kapok and balsa which have nearly reached the biome ceiling. They may even catch a glimpse of wildlife such as tree frogs and tiny birds known as Sulawesi White Eyes.

Bear, who took high tea on the Lookout with Eden's Chief Executive Tim Smit, said: "It's an amazing view here over the Rainforest Biome at Eden. Whenever I've done this for real in a jungle you're covered in bullet ants and fighting through snakes to get a view up over the canopy. This is great because you get a nice walk up there and a spectacular view.

"What I also love is that there are thousands and thousands of people here and it's a great way to introduce kids to the outdoors and teach them a bit about ecology and the natural world - and they don't have to travel to South America to do it. This is the world's biggest greenhouse and you've got it all here."

Tim Smit said: “The perspective you get from up here is much like what you would have if were at the top of one of the big kapok trees in the rainforest. It's a magnificent view looking down and reminds you just how big the Rainforest Biome is.”

Gaynor Coley, Eden's Managing Director, said: "We're really delighted. When we built the Rainforest Biome we always wanted people to get the real sensation of what it was like being in the heart of the rainforest and here, right above the canopy, it's superb, hot and sweaty and your whole body knows you're in the rainforest."

Don Murray, Eden's Chair of Horticulture and Curator of the Rainforest Biome, said: "The Rainforest Lookout brings back the whole story full circle covering every aspect of the Rainforest - it's fantastic."

The Rainforest Biome houses plants from the Tropical Islands, Malaysia, West Africa and Tropical South America. There are plants and crops from tropical environments and rainforests, including bananas, coffee, balsa, mahogany, bromeliads (orchids), spices and tropical ferns.

Bear Grylls performed his daredevil abseil in the steamy Rainforest Biome shortly before embarking on a record-breaking trip to the Arctic. An ardent supporter of environmental issues, Bear added: "What I find so shocking is that an area the size of this huge Biome is lost every 10 seconds in through deforestation. It's a sober reminder we live in a fragile and spectacular world that we have to protect."

Palm oil is a major driver of deforestation threatening rainforest wildlife such as the orangutan. Eden has already eradicated palm oil from the biscuits, soap, and Cornish pasties that it stocks and has adopted a policy not to buy any new products which contain palm oil.

An extra charge applies for access to the Rainforest Lookout with funds going towards Eden’s educational programme on rainforests.