Date: 
Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 12:00

Snaking through the treetops of the world’s largest indoor jungle, the much-anticipated Rainforest Aerial Walkway is rapidly taking shape at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

The spectacular walkway is due to open to the public in a series of special preview tours starting next Thursday (June 6) until Wednesday June 26. An Eden Narrator will give those on the tour an overview of the Walkway and talk about the stages still to come.

The visitor journey begins at the Rainforest Basecamp, which sets the scene for the walkway experience. The Basecamp provides an introduction from the perspective of the people who live in the rainforest and from the canopy scientists who work there. From the upper level of the Basecamp visitors will get their first spectacular views over the canopy.

An aerial walkway high above the forest floor leads visitors to the Nest: a platform with fabulous views out through the treetops. Art exhibitions are currently being created, with public participation, to bring the story of the rainforest’s biodiversity to life. A second aerial walkway takes the visitors further through the canopy to a cliff path nestled in the back wall of the Biome.

Eden is working with the Sensory Trust to make the experience great for visitors of all ages and abilities. The aim is for the first phase of the Rainforest Aerial Walkway to be open to visitors next month (June).

The Eden horticulturalists are working on new plant exhibits and landscaping to accompany the installation. During the build the Rainforest Biome has remained open to visitors so they can watch first-hand as the infrastructure develops. 
The first phase of the walkway has been made possible thanks to the generous support of a number of foundations and individuals, including the Garfield Weston Foundation, The Wolfson Foundation and donors to the Eddie George Memorial Appeal.

Dr Jo Elworthy, Eden’s Director of Interpretation, said: "A piece of primary forest - the size of Eden’s vast indoor jungle disappears in the wild every ten seconds. Rainforests help keep us alive wherever we live. Addressing the challenge (including how the story is told) needs a fresh approach.

“Once you have visited the rainforest it changes you forever, fuelling a desire to care. Not everyone has that opportunity so we decided to grow a rainforest right here in Cornwall, UK.  Now, 12 years after we opened, our forest has grown and is reaching for the sky. At last, we have been able to start to build the walkway and, with you all, take to the trees."

Fundraising continues and plans for the second phase of the walkway are already underway. Once funded, Eden will build on the experience reaching further into the treetops to take visitors to the Weather Station, an artistic installation which will enable intrepid explorers to discover how rainforests control the world’s climate and experience and measure weather. The Met Office are working with the Eden Project on this phase.

Subsequent phases will include a Fruit Bar in the treetops, exploring ways of supporting livelihoods in the forest through rainforest-friendly products, and a Field Station where visitors will be able to discover ways in which they can help look after the rainforests of the world.

The Walkway design and project team comprising Blue Forest in collaboration with Jerry Tate Architects, SKM, Buro Happold, Ward Williams Associates and EaseManage has worked hand in hand with the Eden Project team to bring the project to life.

Eden horticulturalists are working on new plant exhibits and landscaping to accompany the installation. During the build the Rainforest Biome has remained open to visitors so they can watch first-hand as the infrastructure develops.

The preview tours take place at 10.30am, 11.30am, 1pm, 3pm and 4pm from June 6 to June 26 and are free of charge. They can be booked by calling the Eden box office on 01726 811972 or, if space is still available, on the day at the information desk in the Link building between the Biomes.