Cédric Guérin created Tropicalia. Since 2009, he has carried through his idea of combining his passion for tropical wildlife, his profession as a vet and his desire to share this passion with the world. Cédric Guérin has been living for over 30 years on the Opal Coast and has developed a deep concern for environmental and economic issues which led him to create the concept for Tropicalia in 2016. In March 2018, after two years of development, the project was officially showcased to the public.
Tropicalia has many goals, to:
- Offer an immersive experience in a tropical environment to a wide audience and particularly to people who cannot afford to travel to tropical countries;
- Engage visitors’ respect for nature and biodiversity and amaze them by showcasing the interdependence between fauna, flora and humans in all ecosystems;
- Fight against climate change on technological, economic and human levels;
- Support the development of the circular economy and sustainable tourism in the region;
- Send an educational message on environmental and sustainable issues;
- Create a centre for scientific research, collaborating with universities and laboratories, and offering a space for experiments and visibility;
- Contribute to the increase and efficiency of therapies (multi-therapy, sylvo therapy, walking therapy…) working with local health centres and social health centres.
Tropicalia also aims to act on a local level to protect nature and biodiversity by:
- Promoting and participating in conservation and awareness projects on environmental issues through the future foundation of Tropicalia; Becoming a centre of protection and breeding for some endangered species, in order to return them to their natural habitat;
- Financing research programmes;
- Developing strategic partnerships with local and regional players;
- Offering visitors the opportunity to take part in initiatives to increase the number of pollinators (butterfly, solitary bees…).
The main theme for the experience is immersion. The temperature, humidity, architecture, fauna and flora will create a unique change of scenery. While walking on the kilometre long path, the visitor will pass through a dozen different landscapes and discover all the beauty of the Tropics. Butterflies, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, which can be found in different parts of the greenhouse, will add to this unique experience. The visit will last approximately 3 hours, although, for those who wish to take time to appreciate the microfauna, spending a day in Tropicalia is recommended. According to the time of the year, wildlife will be different with flowers blooming during different seasons and new species added.
Part of the Tropicalia team will be dedicated to visitors offering guided tours and activities with specialists. Special huts will be dedicated to school teaching programmes, hosting activities for pupils all year long.
In order to promote short supply chains and local and regional products, the restaurant and shop will follow high environmental standards.
Tropicalia will be built on Gretz field in Verton and Rang-du-Fliers on an area of 9.3 hectares. Artificial surfaces will only be 4 hectares which is around 40% of the total area.
Deciding to build Tropicalia in the Joint Development Zone of Gretz field, designated for construction since the beginning of the 2010s, was a well thought through process. Indeed, building Tropicalia in the JDZ will safeguard the surrounding environment by creating green spaces and walking paths. Moreover, the location was also chosen for its accessibility via public transport. A direct bus service, as well as walking paths, to the train station will be created. We are also thinking of creating a bicycle lane linking Tropicalia to the Eurovelo 4 route on the Atlantic Coast.
Everything will be done to make Tropicalia reachable via sustainable transport!
On the contrary, building Tropicalia in the JDZ of Gretz field will allow the creation of many protected areas for local species (avifauna & entomofauna – bird and insect life) thanks to trees, hedges and thickets. We want to work with local associations in order to promote and protect the fauna of the Opal Coast by financing projects. Moreover, breeding French lepidoptera (butterflies) and creating a care centre for the local fauna are a part of future project aims.
The lack of chemical fertilisers and pesticides will attract local fauna and flora.
Animals will be semi free under the 350.000m³ of the greenhouse. The greenhouse will create a sanctuary and will constitute a strong educational tool which will improve our knowledge of species in order to protect them more effectively and create an efficient breeding programme.
Butterflies will come from different breeding farms across the world. These farms not only participate in the local economy but also contribute to the safekeeping of equatorial forests by preventing deforestation. Indeed, by working in breeding farms raising caterpillars, farmers are no longer working in intensive farming and burning the forest to farm on new lands.
They now protect the forest, the source of their decent and sustainable income, for their families, thanks to projects like Tropicalia. The breeding of these butterflies generates more income than intensive agriculture while avoiding the use of pesticides. By buying them at the chrysalis stage, Tropicalia directly participates in the conservation of equatorial forests.
Every animal and plant species comes from farming. The shrubs and trees come from tree nurseries and plants for the green walls come from seeds and cuttings produced in France. The few animals in Tropicalia are from various European zoos. There will not be any animal coming from the wild.
Tropicalia is not a zoo but a tropical garden in symbiosis with fauna and flora. The immersive experience that Tropicalia offers is an Eden Garden type of environment. There won’t be any large animals: no felines, hippopotamus, large monkeys or manatees but rather a microfauna consisting of birds, amphibians, insects, invertebrates, fish and reptiles.
There are no risks of dissemination for several reasons:
- Entry to the greenhouse takes place safely through a preparatory zone
- Ventilation openings are secured by grids
These measures have been approved by the required authority before public opening.
Moreover, no animal or plant species could survive in our local climate because temperature goes below 10°C.
Tropicalia is a private project funded partly by local entrepreneurs who wish to participate in the economic development of our region. Partner companies have also joined the adventure as well as banks and investment funds.
We have asked for regional and European subsidies on technological innovation for renewable energies. These subsidies are allocated to fund the additional costs of a green initiative. They are only meant to fund green initiatives: if Tropicalia did not exist, they would be allocated to wind farm or photovoltaic projects. Therefore, these subsidies cannot be allocated to different projects as some people seem to think.
It must be said as well that those subsidies are for investment and not operation. Operational subsidies are only paid when construction is over and paid for. They amount to approximately 10 million euros on a 70 million euros budget or a little over 10% of the budget.
Visitors of Tropicalia will enjoy the hotels and restaurants of the surrounding area but will also visit the other tourist attractions and natural areas (ecotourism) along the Opal Coast. Moreover, local governments will receive the taxes linked to the site operation but also the indirect taxes linked to complementary expenditures (hotels, restaurants…).
Tropicalia is a tourism project that will complete the already existing offer in the region (Nausicaa, Bagatelle, Marquenterre Park…) by creating an “Opal Coast destination” with longer and numerous stays on the coast.
Tropicalia will create many jobs:
- 145 jobs linked to the operational team, catering, the shop, cleaning and maintenance
- 238 indirect jobs linked to surrounding catering, hospitality, tourism, suppliers etc.
Construction jobs (which will take place over 2 years):
- 192 local jobs during the construction period (building, dome, interior decor)
With a total of 383 jobs.
From the beginning, heating the greenhouse with fossil energies such as fuel oil or gas was not an option.
Tropicalia’s teams managed to conceive a greenhouse self-sufficient for heating and that produces even more heat for 6 to 7 months a year.
This innovation was made possible through combining the architectural conception of the dome and of the “Terraotherm” process: https://terraotherm.com/
With our common aim to be as sustainable as possible, all water from the rooftops will be used to water the plants and renew the water from the ponds. Moreover, streetlamps on the parking lot will be photovoltaic with shortened lighting ranges. Solar canopies will also be used to charge electrical car charging stations.
Project engineers have run through several thermodynamic simulations to study how the greenhouse reacts to the Opal Coast climate. These studies led to calculations of the daily heating requirements. In cold climate conditions, the requirements will be of approximately 900MWh and will be obtained through geothermal energy. From April to October, Tropicalia will be self-sufficient in terms of heating thanks to its innovative heating recycling system. Moreover, during those months we will produce extra energy of about 2000 MWh/year that we will use to supply hot water to our neighbours. Tropicalia will therefore be an energy-plus building which means that it will produce energy! Supplying our neighbours 2000 MWh/year will avoid the consumption of 270.000 liters of fuel oil per year or its equivalent in other fossil fuels.
We have adapted our opening hours according to the length of lighting in a day. The greenhouse will not be lit up by anything other than the natural cycle of light. Even if lighting the greenhouse could be interesting economically, it does not fit our will of a virtuous project. In winter time, the greenhouse will be opened from 9am to 5pm.
Tropicalia’s strategy is built around promoting sustainability. This strategy is a key criterion in decision making dealing with operations, partnerships, and suppliers. Tropicalia aims to reduce its environmental impact to a minimum while showing long term positive outcomes.
Our goal is to start innovative projects and partnerships to contribute to the sustainability of our initiative. We will also share in our ecosystem of companies and partners’ best practices and technologies available locally, regionally and beyond. Thanks to its action, Tropicalia wishes to be considered as an example by developing alternatives to non-sustainable practices that are still widely used.
Moreover, the Tropicalia company Foundation will develop social and environmental projects to maximise the positive impact on the environment.
Construction and operation will initially have a carbon footprint. However, in order to respect the mitigation hierarchy (avoid, reduce, compensate/offset), we will compensate this impact by a series of positive actions after the opening which will allow us to re-equilibrate our carbon footprint.
From construction to operation Tropicalia will collect data to analyse and evaluate the impact of its activities and compare this impact to their objectives (which is something that they already do). For example, companies selected to build the frame use innovative solutions to reduce carbon emissions such as using metal to build the frame instead of concrete. When cement is the only choice, we use low carbon emitting concrete.
We would like to compensate our carbon footprint in different ways:
- By exporting heat to our neighbours. Indeed, every megawatt of exported heat will reduce their consumption in fossil fuels which will counter our own emissions.
- Thanks to its innovative recycling heating system, Tropicalia will have self-sufficient heating during most of the year. Moreover, Tropicalia will supply their neighbours 2000 MWh/year and avoid the consumption of 270.000 litres of fuel oil per year or its equivalent in other fossil fuels.
- By providing a worldwide example to future green projects and promote Tropicalia’s technology to other buildings such as horticultural greenhouses, buildings, urban centres and therefore reduce greenhouse gas emissions. All the more reason to consider Tropicalia as a green investment for the future.
Tropicalia will also aim for carbon neutrality through:
- Reducing waste (food, packaging, plastics…) and promoting the use of sustainable materials instead;
- Associating Tropicalia and circular economy players through strategic partnerships;
- Supporting local producers and suppliers on all operation levels;
- Becoming a centre for sustainable means of transport, private and public;
- Promoting initiatives in our region to develop biodiversity in order to reduce greenhouse emissions.
We will therefore aim to be as climate neutral as possible during all parts of the project.
Considering the size of the project, Tropicalia’s water needs are quite low, which is why our project did not need an administrative “authorisation” but rather a simple “declaration” to collect water through a borehole. Every year, Tropicalia will need approximately 47.000 m3 of water:
- To water the plants via the dome, making it look like rain;
- To water the plants through the ground;
- To renew water in the ponds;
- To fog certain areas;
- To clean the greenhouse.
Rainwater will be harvested thanks to our dome and will supply a little less than half of our water needs.
When the energy recovery system is switched on in the greenhouse, the dehumidification process will condense water that will be harvested and used.
Tropicalia contributes to the fight against global warming thanks to its carbon neutral strategy and its long-term positive impact. We wish to highlight innovative sustainable solutions and trigger other industries to do the same.
The Tropicalia Foundation will have a series of activities to stimulate and promote behavioural change and fight against climate change by engaging with local and regional players, inhabitants and our visitors.
Tropicalia is located at the heart of tourist activities in Hauts-de-France which makes it an example for developing green and sustainable tourism.
The fight against climate change can only be a success if it comes from a common wish for a true systemic change.
In spring 2020, we obtained the REV3 Hauts-de-France label; Tropicalia is considered to be a sustainable project as well as a solution for our future.
Tropicalia is therefore not a project causing global warming. On the contrary, it aims to promote virtuous climate technology to other buildings in Europe and the world (horticultural greenhouses and greenhouses for vegetable gardening).
The dome has two layers which allows us to benefit from better isolation and creates a high temperature environment.
Our simulations indicate that in winter time, with an outdoor temperature of -5°C and sunny weather, the temperature inside the dome will reach 30°C. We will be able to recycle heat even in winter!
The heat recycling system is a breakthrough. Combining the Terraotherm system with the double layered dome will allow us to stock and send large quantities of energy in the form of hot water. Creating the largest tropical greenhouse in the world with self-sufficient energy in the North of France will allow us to promote alternatives to fossil fuels.
Tropicalia: an architecture and a concept thought out to serve the environment.
Yes. Today Tropicalia’s team is made up of about thirty specialised people working together with one aim only: to see this beautiful project come true.
Tropicalia has become a project supported by the local population, companies and governments (CA2BM) and the regional authority.
The construction work will start in 2021 and Tropicalia will open in 2023.
Tropicalia will open in 2023. We will start hiring a year before the opening.
Job offers will be published on social media, on our website and on regional job search platforms.