rainforest

Inside the ‘Absurd’ Plan to Bring the Amazon Rainforest to Europe

Rang-du-Fliers is a small village in France known for being close to the annual kite festival. Its grey, wind-swept surroundings have been otherwise unnoteworthy. A controversial €72 million (about £63 million) project plans to bring the Amazon rainforest to Europe. The plan is to assemble the largest domed tropical greenhouse in the world by this once unremarkable village.  

This unique place will contain a diverse range of fauna and flora, butterflies, exotic flowers, hummingbirds, waterfalls, aquarium basins, fish, turtles, caimans, and more,” said the creators. “Beyond the eminently exotic interior world, the sensation of complete immersion is made possible with the innovative architectural approach.” [1] 

The greenhouse, called “Tropicalia,” is a huge 20,000 square-meter plastic structure to be filled with a 25-meter-high waterfall and a walking trail a kilometer long. Not to mention the many species of animals and fish. Oh, and there will be a restaurant, auditorium, and bed and breakfast.  

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The Plan to Bring the Amazon Rainforest to Europe 

This eccentric plan to bring the Amazon rainforest to Europe is the dream of Cédric Guérin. He is a veterinarian who had lived in French Guiana and equatorial Africa. This project hopes to draw 500,000 visitors a year to the dreary region of France’s Opal Coast. 

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My childhood experiences gave me the inspiration for this,” said Guérin. “But Tropicalia is a combination of my professional experience and personal passion. I want to share this experience with others.” 

The tropical plants and creatures will come in from all over the world to recreate an Amazon rainforest. This could entail weekly trips from Africa and South America to replace the 8,000 butterflies. The fauna will be protected from the northern cold by the dome’s double protective layer of durable and transparent plastic. Additionally, heat recycling technology will keep temperatures between 26 to 28 degrees Celsius (78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit), and excess heat will be recycled for use in buildings nearby. [2] 

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Image Credit: Coldefy

However, not everyone is excited about these plans. Thirty-eight conservation groups, including Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion, oppose this human-made “Garden of Eden.” Efforts to protect rainforests are becoming more vital for their continued existence.  

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They disagree with the marketing for Tropicalia, which boasts of an “immersive experience” that will be “an open door to understanding and respecting a fragile ecosystem” and “part of the fight against global warming.” They believe it’s just a vanity project that could do more harm than good. In their eyes, the rainforest should not be brought to Europe.

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Read: The ‘8th Continent’ Is a Floating Self-Sustainable Ocean Cleaner

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Protests Against Tropicalia 

Earlier this month, hundreds of protesters met up in Rang-du-Fliers. They waved flags and banners proclaiming the Non à Tropicalia collective. They held maps that pointed to the rainforests all over the globe, omitting France. The caption read: “The tropics are here.”

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Why on earth are we trying to bring Brazil to northern France?” said activist Clementine Daveau. “We’re facing a climate crisis. We’ve seen that climate change is accelerating. But they want to bring planeloads of butterflies, create lots of traffic, meanwhile creating all these emissions.” [3] 

Among the protesters were the ecologist mayor of Grenoble, Eric Piolle, and Ugo Bernalicis. “I’m opposed to the project. It’s an aberration. It belongs in the past. It’s against everything in the climate crisis, politically and ecologically.” 

Another protester is Theo, 23, from Lille. “This guy just wants to brag about the fact that he has traveled around the world to those who haven’t had the opportunity. It’s an absurd project. We need to focus on localism.” 

Xavier Hermant has another, more traditional, explanation. “It’s a private project with an economic objective. They want to make a profit. That is the bottom line.” 

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The Defense for Tropicalia 

Guérin argues that Tropicalia has many economic benefits. For instance, it could create 145 jobs for the local community. (However, activists estimate there would be only 50 jobs.) 

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Despite this, Claude Coin, the mayor of Rang-du-Fliers, continues to back the project. “The project will be good for the area economically,” he said. “We want tourists to be drawn into the area for days.” 

Other criticisms include:

  • The outdated captivity of zoos,
  • A high carbon footprint for construction
  • The estimated 25,000 cubic meters of water Tropicalia would require every year (approximately 6.6 million gallons).
  • Further increase in urbanization

However, for Guérin, their arguments don’t hold any weight. He considers the protesters of Tropicalia “ecologist ayatollahs” who fear development and economic growth. “They are afraid of capitalistic projects. But we are looking to the future for solutions.” 

Image Credit: Coldefy

Still, he has yet to release the estimated carbon footprint of the project. “It’s very, very difficult to estimate the carbon emissions,” he said. “It’s very complex, and it takes time. We will publish them as soon as possible, but I don’t want to give a precise date.” 

In the meantime, the plan to bring the Amazon rainforest to Europe becomes closer to reality. According to architect Coldefy’s website, Tropicalia aims to open its doors in 2023. [4] 

Keep Reading: Huge Wind Turbine With 350-Foot Blades Can Power A Home For Two Days With One Turn

Sources

  1. “France’s ‘Bio-Dome’-like tropical greenhouse will be the largest on the planet” BGR. Mike Wehner. March 29, 2018 
  2. “World’s largest single-domed tropical greenhouse is coming to France.” CNN. Jamie Robinson. April 6, 2018 
  3. Inside the ‘Absurd’ Plan to Bring the Amazon Rainforest to a Grey Corner of Europe.” Vice. Peter Yeung. February 17, 2021 
  4. “Projects: Tropicalia.” Coldefy.  
Sarah Biren
Freelance Writer
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender.
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