Plymouth forges link with Eden

November 16, 2001

An agreement between Plymouth University and the Eden Project in Cornwall will bring the world's flora within easy reach of plant scientists and students.

Representatives of the two organisations have signed a memorandum of understanding to encourage future collaboration.

The link will enable research and educational projects to exploit the resources of the giant covered conservatories that replicate the climate and plant life of the rainforests, the Mediterranean, South Africa and California.

Stuart Lane, principal lecturer in plant sciences, who is coordinating the agreement with John Bull, principal lecturer in environmental sciences, said it offered many possibilities for the university.

"Eden is a unique resource in terms of easy access to plant communities. We can see plants from Malaysia, for example, in a relatively natural environment without having to go there. By comparing species from, say, South Africa and the Far East, we can get a global perspective."

Dr Lane hopes the link will help the university to launch a masters course in botanical conservation next year and perhaps a revamped degree course in plant discovery and exploitation.

A collaborative research project on nutrient uptake in exotic plants has already been established, and the Eden Project's network of expertise will prove very useful to plant scientists at Plymouth.

Tim Smit, the Eden Project's chief executive officer, said he was looking forward to working with the university. He said it would "help deliver Eden's potential as a resource for higher education students and researchers".

Informal links between Plymouth University and the Eden Project have involved project staff lecturing students and graduates carrying out voluntary work.

In September, Plymouth University graduate Louise Frost published her book The Plants of Eden . Ms Frost is now employed as the Eden Project's plant records officer.

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