One million visitors a year expected at Butterfly World

PUBLISHED: 14:13 12 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:01 06 May 2010

The butterfly-shaped development

The butterfly-shaped development

UP to one million visitors are expected annually when Butterfly World, a world-class pioneering project, opens alongside the Gardens of the Rose in Chiswell Green. Sir David Attenborough marked the start of the construction of the multi-million pound sche

UP to one million visitors are expected annually when Butterfly World, a world-class pioneering project, opens alongside the Gardens of the Rose in Chiswell Green.

Sir David Attenborough marked the start of the construction of the multi-million pound scheme at its launch at The Royal Society in London yesterday (Wednesday) where he was joined by project trustees David Bellamy, actress Emilia Fox, Baroness Helena Kennedy and world butterfly expert Professor Jeremy Thomas.

Work is due to start on the £25-million ultimate butterfly experience within the next few weeks and it is expected to welcome up to one million visitors a year when it is fully operational in Spring 2011.

It will be the world's biggest walk-through butterfly experience housed in a 100-metre biome with more than 10,000 tropical butterflies in flight at any one time.

Sections of the dome will be submerged to incorporate underground caverns featuring many tropical creatures including scorpions and snakes.

Butterfly World will be housed on a 26-acre site and designed by renowned landscape designer Ivan Hicks in the shape of a butterfly with the dome as its eye.

The first phase will restore biodiversity to low-grade agricultural land and turn it into one of the richest wild flower meadows in Britain, offering a perfect habitat for protecting fragile and endangered indigenous butterfly and moth species.

The first stage of the second phase will see the construction of the spectacular roof of the biome featuring a huge tropical garden which is scheduled for completion from June to September 2010 while the second stage will involve the completion of the project in time for its planned opening.

A key aspect of Butterfly World will be "Future Gardens", a showcase for contemporary and sustainable garden design which will become an annual event from June to September.

Launching the project, Sir David warned that more than three-quarters of British butterfly species had declined in the last 20 years, some very rapidly. He said that for the sake of future generations action had to be taken now and added: "Butterfly World is doing just that. It is putting issues on the agenda and is seeking to help reverse this environmental catastrophe."

Butterfly World acquired the site, which was part of the land owned by the Royal National Rose Society, when the latter suffered financial difficulties around a decade ago. It was given planning permission in March 2004 subject to the building of a new road into the site from the A405.

The project is the vision of award-winning lepidopterist Clive Farrell who sees it as bringing the public into direct contact with some of the most fragile and beautiful wildlife in the world and sending out a clarion call on behalf of endangered species.

The project will be self-sustaining and the economic impact on the region is conservatively forecast to be around £123 million in the first five years of operation.

A local launch of the scheme is to be held tomorrow (Friday) at Sopwell House Hotel in St Albans.

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