Imagine a rainforest in a desert where 3,000 plants and 800 animals, including a sloth, thrive.
It is not a mirage, it is The Green Planet in the United Arab Emirates, a four-storey exotic jungle inside a biodome, complete with the world’s largest man-made tree.
Christopher Davis, Green Planet’s head of operations, explained: “It’s a slice of nature. Imagine a tropical rainforest in the Amazon; we’ve taken a cut out of that, brought it here to the middle of the desert. All of the animals that you see here, the trees, the plants, butterflies, reptiles, you name it. All kinds of animals, from all over the world, (and) different rainforests.”
The Green Planet will not just be a place to escape the arid Dubai heat but to also learn about how a rainforest works.
According to Christopher Davis, up to 15 educational programmes in five areas of eco-exploration are scheduled for children aged three to 14: “The goal is certainly education, that’s a primary one. We have a lot of plans for school children to come in to learn a lot about nature.”
But what about the energy it takes to turn a desert into the tropics, especially when it comes to precious fresh water?
Davis defends the building, pointing out it is the exact opposite of wasteful: “The interesting thing about this building is it is actually a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building, which is a relatively hard thing to get. It means that there is a certain energy conservation point to it from the very design, all the way through construction and now through operations. The waterfall for instance is a recycled waterfall, very little water use.”
Visitors entering the dome must pass through an airlock which helps to maintain the internal eco-integrity of this immersive facility.