Friday, May 20, 2016 - 11:45

The Eden Project has announced the appointment of Dr Mike Maunder, a leader in plant conservation and horticulture, to the newly-created post of Director of Life Sciences.

He is currently Associate Dean for Research Engagement and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Florida International University in Miami, USA, where he was part of the team that established the new International Center for Tropical Botany, and is due to join Eden in August.

Mike will take the lead on horticulture, agronomy and all Eden’s areas of science and research programmes and will be a key contributor to the project’s expanding education and learning activities.

He first studied horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, took his Msc and PhD with RBG Kew and the University of Reading, and over the past 30 years has established a worldwide reputation in the fields of conservation and biodiversity.

He has worked in the UK, the USA and a range of other countries particularly in East Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean.

Mike has many years of experience in running significant public gardens and has an impressive list of publications to his name, as well as expertise as a fundraiser.

In the late 1990s he worked with Eden Co-founder Sir Tim Smit as part of the team planning the foundation of the Eden Project, based near St Austell in Cornwall.

Sir Tim said that Mike’s appointment is a major coup for the project and his arrival shows the strength of Eden’s commitment to science and horticulture.

Recalling his early involvement with Eden, Sir Tim said: “Mike was then at Kew and freely gave of his time, travelling to motorway service stations and grotty pubs and to anywhere where the team could get together to discuss what a revolution in the world of horticulture might look like.”

Sir Tim added: “We wanted him to join us then and at several times along the way over the years. Mike coming here sends a signal to the science and horticultural world that Eden is serious and now moving up a number of gears to be a player at the highest of science tables as well as the world of science entertainment and education. I cannot tell you how thrilled we all are that he is coming.”

Mike Maunder said:  "I was privileged to play a small part in the establishment of Eden and I am honoured to be joining Eden's extraordinary team. There is a creative alchemy at Eden that is unmatched in the botanic garden world, that creativity has positioned Eden as a place of inspiration, a great garden, and an institution tackling issues of global importance. I'm looking forward to learning more about the work of Eden and getting to work with a world class team."

On appointment Mike will become one of a team of executive directors sitting on the main board of Eden Project Ltd, which reports to the Eden Trust.