The start of the construction of Tropicalia in Rang-du-Fliers (Pas-de-Calais), which is presented as the largest tropical greenhouse in the world, is causing debate. Some see it as a tourist asset, others as an ecological aberration.
It is the largest tropical greenhouse in the world, according to the project owner. The construction of Tropicalia is creating tensions in Rang-de-Fliers (Pas-de-Calais), where it will be built. A dome of about thirty meters high, installed on a 10,000 square meter site. Inside this huge greenhouse, the temperature will be between 25 and 28°C.
“The concept is a bit like the Garden of Eden, meaning that there will be lots of tropical butterflies from all over the world, a few birds, ponds and waterfalls,” says Cédric Guérin, the veterinarian behind the project. There will also be turtles, frogs, caimans… With this giant greenhouse at 73 million euros, he wishes to raise public awareness of the protection of tropical fauna and flora.
It is an eco-responsible approach, he assures. People compare us to a ski slope in the desert, whereas it is not an energy sink,” explains Cédric Guérin. We recycle the heat generated by the greenhouse effect. We already know that we will be in energy balance for seven months a year. The geothermal energy will provide us with the rest”.
A project that seduces some local elected officials, who see the opportunity to develop their territory by attracting tourists. The visitors who will come to Tropicalia will also come to discover the Opal Coast, so they will be able to support the businesses on the seafront,” says Bruno Cousein, mayor of Berck-sur-Mer and president of the agglomeration community. It’s really an opportunity for this territory. He hopes for 500,000 visitors each year.
But these arguments do not convince the 38 environmental associations opposed to the project. They demonstrated on February 6 to say no to the project. “Can we seriously talk about a post-Covid revival for a zoo under a bell?” asks Nico, from the Stop Tropicalia collective. “We are no longer in the era when we want to make zoos at all costs. It doesn’t make sense to lock up thousands of animals here,” adds Jean-Christophe, also a member of the collective.
Mariette Vanbrugghe, president of the GDEAM-62 (Group for the defense of the environment of the district of Montreuil and Pas-de-Calais), denounces an ecological nonsense. “To protect the tropical nature, it is not at home that it is necessary to do it, it is under the tropics, she estimates. And at home, let’s protect our nature, the little we have left. It is hardly 10% in the Pas-de-Calais”. Her association has filed an appeal with the administrative court. It also denounces the artificialization of the 10 hectares of the project, which are no longer agricultural land. An online petition against the project has collected several thousand signatures.