There is a lot of support indirectly and perhaps unconsciously given to the world around us. In Eden I witnessed a Robin picking up crumbs that I had just swept from my knee during a quick lunch in the woods.
The pinnacle of unintended support and connection comes after death. Our bodies return to the earth and can support other lifeforms.
But this is not the only way dead lifeforms can support the living. Humans make various use of dead lifeforms as raw materials for construction, and other supportive functions for life.
Across much of the animal kingdom, family connections are strong and a source of great support especially through the juvenile stage. For mammals this is especially strong during pregnancy and in the nursing stage.
Bees are a support system in themselves – providing vital pollination to plantlife, and nourishing animals like humans in turn.
While reflecting on the importance of the support from bees, it is unsurprising that a honeycomb structure was chosen for the iconic biomes at the Eden project – where they aspire to be connecting us. The delicate structure appears bubble-like from the outside, with the tesselated structure dominant all across the heavens inside.
Besides the visual communications Eden themselves used to evoke inter-connectedness, I was interested to witness this survival strategy in action in the lifeforms in and around the site itself.
Lifeform directly supported by another lifeform: ‘symbiosis’
Lifeform supported indirectly by another lifeform e.g. benefiting from the death of another, or picking up scraps.
Direct Connection/Support: Epiphytes
Within the rainforest biome, I observed an interesting type of plant known as ‘epiphytes’ – ones that use other plants for support and do not themselves require soil, and are not parasitic.
These plants are supported in a literal sense, as they are suspended in the air by the trunk on which they grow. That they grow on the trunk but are not parasites is particularly interesting. In both of these photographs I like how vibrant and full of energy the plants look, with their spiky forms and vivid green colours.
This week we took a trip to the Eden Project in Cornwall. Our brief was to research different survival strategies whilst we were there.
The mission statement of the Eden Project is:
To connect us with each other and the living world, exploring how we can work towards a better future.
In doing so, they hope to combat ‘plant blindness’, which means that we do not realise the myriad ways in which our modern lives are inextricably linked with the natural world around us. From the food that we eat, to the clothes we wear, the medicines we survive by and materials we construct with, we neglect to consider how even most man-made products have in some way been produced using natural resources.
Their primary message is that of interconnectedness between us and the natural world (see below). The very way in which we survive at a total level is because of our place within a whole – we rely on the support of other lifeforms/systems. This interconnection/support system is the ultimate survival strategy which I wanted to explore further.