10 Million Acres Added to Chile’s Parks

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Today, January 29, 2018, Kristine Tompkins of @tompkins_conservation and Chile's President Michelle Bachelet signed a declaration to add Patagonia National Park and Pumalín National Park to Chile’s national park system.⠀ ⠀ These donations are part of a 10 million-acre addition to Chile’s national park system—with approximately one million acres of land from Tompkins Conservation and nine million acres of federal land from Chile—which will add five new parks and expand three more. These national parks will safeguard Patagonia’s wilderness, provide a boon to economic development in southern Chile, and continue to welcome Chileans and international tourists alike. ⠀ ⠀ This is an unprecedented victory for conservation that’s been in the making for more than 25 years and cements Chile as a global leader in conservation.⠀ ⠀ Photos: L. Waidhofer, C. Henderson, Kate Larramendy, @tompkins_conservation

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I don’t normally expect to get my daily news from Instagram, unless it’s an update from a personal friend. I follow the company Patagonia because they feature beautiful photos like those above, but yesterday they shared this fantastic announcement. Visiting Patagonia about a decade ago was an amazing experience that I hope to repeat before too long, and I am thrilled that there will be some new national parks to visit. Jonathan Franklin reports for The Guardian:

McDivitt Tompkins, the former chief executive of the outdoors company Patagonia, handed over 1m acres to help create the new parks. The Chilean government provided the rest in federally controlled land.

McDivitt Tompkins has spent 25 years working on land conservation in Chile with her late husband Doug, who founded North Face and Esprit. Doug Tompkins died in a kayaking accident in Chile in 2015.

“This is not just an unprecedented act of preservation,” said [Chile’s President Michelle] Bachelet, who flew to this remote Patagonian valley on Monday to receive the donation. “It is an invitation to imagine other forms to use our land. To use natural resources in a way that does not destroy them. To have sustainable development – the only profitable economic development in the long term.”

The creation of the parks marks the latest in a flurry of environmental protection laws which have brought Chile to the forefront of worldwide conservation efforts.

Last month, Bachelet – who leaves office in March – completed a five-year negotiation with residents of Easter Island to form one of the world’s largest Marine Protected areas, which will protect some 720,000 sq km of the Pacific Ocean.

“President Bachelet is leaving behind a bold legacy of environmental protection,” said Maximiliano Bello, an advisor to the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy program.

“This is more impressive because Chile is still a developing country, with a long history of development and exploitation of resources – in most cases over-exploitation. If Chile can take these huge environmental steps, there are few reasons why developed nations can’t act as well.”

After moving to Chile from California in the early 1990s, the Tompkinses spent hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase and “rewild” swaths of land.

The approach hasn’t been without controversy: some locals bristled at what they considered a clumsy American land grab. Loggers and ranchers complained that valuable land was taken, and the couple were also criticized for successfully agitating to prevent a huge hydroelectric scheme.

Read the rest of the article here.

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