Education in context, education in action

The Living Rainforest offers a unique educational visit for people of all ages and abilities to learn how the future of tropical rainforests and other ecosytems is closely connected to human lives and lifestyles.

The Living Rainforest’s education programme can be separated into two phases:

  • Phase 1: Creating an ecosystem experience
  • Phase 2: Exploring the relationship between people and nature


Phase 1

Creating an ecosystem experience with interacting plants and animals, interpretation and events to give people a ‘first hand’ experience of a unique sensory environment. This phase is well established and on-going achievements include:

  • expanding the number of free-range animal species, including mammals (e.g. Two-toed Sloth from S America), reptiles (e.g. Asian Water Dragon from SE Asia), birds (e.g. Roul-roul Partridge from SE Asia) and butterflies (e.g. Blue Morpho from C&S America)
  • introducing glasshouse tours, talks and feeding sessions with knowledgeable guides and keepers
  • providing a much-needed home for illegally-traded animals confiscated by HM Customs (e.g. Home’s Hingeback Tortoise from W Africa)
  • continuously enhancing the plant, animal and aquatic displays in the Living Rainforest glasshouses

Phase 2

Exploring the relationship between people and nature. This phase has brought major developments looking at human needs, economies and cultures and the impacts of humanity on the wider environment. Highlights include:

  • school visits featuring tours focused on Amazing Adaptations, Edible Forest, Sustainable Future and Rainforest Medicines
  • the grand opening of the Human Impact Building in March 2006, with funding from the Millennium Commission and European Commission, among others
  • launch of the Trust for Sustainable Living (TSL) in 2007
  • launch of the international TSL Schools Essay Competition and Debate in 2011 and Schools Sustainability Challenge in 2015
  • on-going projects to improve and extend the Living Rainforest exhibits and facilities


The Rainforest’s education work is aimed at both formal and informal audiences.

  • Around 30% of visitors are ‘formal’ school groups making use of TLR as a versatile educational resource for teaching the National Curriculum (Science, Geography, Art and Citizenship)
  • The remaining 70% are ‘informal’ day visitors including families, many of whom have never before visited a rainforest environment

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