Land conservation in Chile could reach a new high with a recent pledge to conserve 11 million acres of wilderness as national parks. As part of the proposal, former Patagonia CEO Kris Tompkins gifted one million acres to the country in what her organization, Tompkins Conservation, says is the “largest land donation in history from a private entity to a country.”
Tompkins and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet signed an agreement to add the one million acres of land from Tompkins Conservation to around 10 million acres of federal land to create a large system of parklands. Under the pledge the government will establish five new national parks. The land under the proposal is three times the size of Yellowstone National Park and Yosemite together. Volcanoes, coastal areas, and forests will be protected under the pledge. In a speech, the president said, “We are bequeathing to the country the greatest creation of protected areas in our history.”
This historic proposal is a step to start a Route of Parks, or a 17-park network, stretching from Cape Horn up to Puerto Montt to conserve Chile’s incredible wilderness and offer outdoor destinations for travelers. The parks could potentially yield around $270 million each year from ecotourism, and could employ as much as 43,000 people, according to Tompkins Conservation. The organization has also committed to start a Friends of National Parks foundation in Chile to support the Route of Parks.
Kris said her late husband, conservationist Douglas Tompkins, who passed away in 2015, inspired the pledge. She said, “I know that if Doug were here today, he would speak of national parks being one of the greatest expressions of democracy that a country can realize, preserving the masterpieces of a nation for all of its citizenry.”
Images via Tompkins Conservation Facebook