Rescued tropical plants arrive at Woburn Forest

Exterior of the Subtropical Swimming Paradise at Woburn with steam rising from the rapids

18 March 2014

Rescued tropical plants arrive at Woburn Forest

The first delivery of tropical plants, rescued from East Asia by Jean Henkens (Botanist and Landscape Architect), have arrived at the new site, Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire.

More than 6,000 tropical plants will be arriving at Woburn Forest during the spring, with 4,800 of those earmarked for the Subtropical Swimming Paradise in the Village Square.

This moment marks the end of a long journey for the tropical plants Jean has rescued over the last 12 months. In the summer of 2012, Center Parcs commissioned Jean to source, collect and care for tropical plants for the interior areas of the new Center Parcs village in Bedfordshire. In 2013, Jean travelled around East Asia collecting plants from areas threatened with deforestation. After months of travelling and working with local villagers to collect and look after plants in local nurseries, the 6,000 plants were then transported to Rotterdam, where they have been looked after and acclimiatised in 15 metre high greenhouses.

4 men installing tropical tree into the Subtropical Swimming Paradise

It will take four weeks for all the tropical plants to be delivered to Woburn Forest, with a majority of the plants being planted in the Subtropical Swimming Paradise, in the heart of the village, and others being planted in other internal areas such as the Sports Plaza and the Aqua Sana Spa.

Here are the facts:

  • The tropical plants for Woburn Forest will be mainly bamboo
  • Jean’s journey to collect the plants for Woburn Forest started on 8th February 2013
  • The journey to collect the plants involved visits to Sumatra, Laos and Burma
  • Some of the plants saved are as tall as 13 metres high and weigh in the region of 10,000 lbs/4,500kgs
  • Approximately 6,000 tropical plants have been collected for Woburn Forest
  • There are 800 different species of tropical plants for Woburn Forest in total
  • 35 containers took the plants from Burma and Malaysia by sea to Rotterdam
  • For every 1,000 plants saved by Jean, only one doesn’t make the journey to the Rotterdam greenhouses
  • The greenhouses in Rotterdam are 15 metres high to accommodate the height of some of the tallest plants
  • 16,000 bags of soil are needed for planting
  • It will take a team of 10 people to deliver and plant all the plants in their new home
  • It takes approximately one hour to plant each tree, with smaller plants taking a little less time
  • Amongst the many plants is a 400 year-old Holy Tree blessed by monks in Thailand

Richard Watson, Landscape Asset Manager, says: “It’s amazing to have been a part of this incredible process! Not a lot of people realise that we not only improve the biodiversity of the forests our villages are in, but that we also rescue tropical species from around the world. We give these trees a new lease of life and bring them closer to our guests, so that generations can enjoy them. These tropical plants also breathe life into the buildings that are now almost complete at Woburn Forest. We feel very privileged and honoured to be the new guardians of these plants and know families will appreciate them for many years to come.”

All the tropical plants will be planted at Woburn Forest by the end of April and, from then, will be cared for by Center Parcs’ Tropical Plants Rangers.

Woburn Forest, Center Parcs' fifth village, is on track to open in the spring.