Ecocentres: Environmental Demonstration Centers

In its heyday, CAT achieved iconic status as an archetypal all-singing, all-dancing ecocentre. Naturally it was often asked for advice for starting new centres, and running or 'converting' old ones. This task usually fell to me, and I got to visit a very wide range of different centres around the world. I tried to boil the conclusions down to manageable documents, and here are two formats for mostly the same material:

How to Start an Eco-Centre 2004 (doc)

Ecocentres Introduction 2012 (ppt)

In its planning stages the National Botanic Garden of Wales had strong aspirations to be the first explicitly 'green' botanical garden. I was a member of the so-called Art and Identity advisory panel, and was asked for the benefit of our experiences at CAT, many of which featured in an essay contributed to the NBGW's founding publication, The Garden of Wales, edited by Andrew Sclater. It is long on questions, short on answers, and that reflects the nature of the problem.

Green Dilemmas for a new Eco-Centre 2000 (doc)


In 2001 CAT was invited to join a European research programme ('Ecolink') investigating Ecocentres, or 'Ecosites' as the French preferred to call them, an excellent name that failed to take. The main aim was to evaluate their potential for promoting various environmental agendas. This involved a dozen or so centres of various kinds around Europe and numerous reports. Some of the more general conclusions have been incorporated into the reports above. An attempt at classification is this:

Defining and Cataloguing Ecosites 2003 (doc)

In 2003 CAT was asked to explore the potential contribution of ecocentres in three specific fields fields. The first concerned the influence of ecocentres on their localities and regions, often quite significant, certainly in the case of CAT.

Ecocentres and Local Development (doc)

The second field was about research, raising the question of whether ecocentres could make distinctive contributions inaccessible to universities or conventional research institutions.

Ecocentres and Research (doc)

The third special area of study concerned biodiversity and conservation of nature. Many ecocentres clearly made a difference.

Ecocentres and Nature Conservation (doc)

Ecocentres and Nature Conservation Presentation (ppt)