Cornwall's famous Eden Project first opened fully to the public in March 2001. It was created in the site of an exhausted china clay pit, which had been neglected since it was last mined - and stood as a glaring reminder of Cornwall's defunct industrial past. In the late 1990s leading environmentalist Tim Smit had the vision to make the quarry pit a place for nature to reclaim, with his ultimate aim being that the site would inform and educate people about wildlife and our fragile ecosystem.
After a few years of planning, the huge artificial biomes - made from specially designed thermoplastic - went into construction. In 2000, the visitor centre was the first part to open and was very well received. The following year saw the completion of the whole complex, including the two huge biomes that are recognised officially as the largest greenhouses in the world. Sections of these biomes each simulate a different climate; for example there are Tropical and Mediterranean sections.
Thousands of plant species are grown and cultivated at the Eden Project. There is also a centre dedicated to environmental education, which highlights the interdependence of people and plants, and certain plants' medicinal uses. The Eden Project has been widely recognised, not only as a great tourist attraction but also as an important conservationist project, and has won a number of awards in celebration of this.