Why Founders Of North Face & Patagonia Donated New Land In Chile

 

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Palabras de la presidenta de Chile, Michelle Bachelet, durante la la firma de los decretos que crean la Red de Parques de la Patagonia Chilena: “Lo que hoy nos reúne es la historia de un sueño. Nacido del amor simple y franco a esta tierra, fue ese sueño el que permitió superar la incomprensión, aunar voluntades y el que terminó por convertirse en política de Estado. Kris, no creo equivocarme al decir que Douglas Tompkins estaría sonriendo al comprobar que estaba en lo cierto y que su legado está más vivo que nunca. Porque desde ahora el Estado de Chile tiene el deber de valorar, preservar y potenciar la riqueza natural de la Patagonia. Y debe hacerlo conforme a altos estándares internacionales. En otras palabras, es un país en su conjunto el que asume el compromiso que antes recaía en algunos visionarios. Es un país en su conjunto el que gana al cimentar rutas concretas para el desarrollo sostenible." // Words from the president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, during the signing of the decrees creating the Network of National Parks of Chilean Patagonia: "What brings us together today is the story of a dream. Born from simple and honest love for this land, it was this dream that allowed us to overcome the incomprehensible, join forces, and that became policy. Kris, I don't think I'm wrong to say that Doug Tompkins would be smiling since he proved us right, and his legacy is more alive than ever before. From here on, Chile has to value, preserve, and foster Patagonia's natural wealth. And it should do so at the highest international standards. In other words, Chile as a whole assumes the commitment that was previously a few visionaries'. Chile as a whole is laying a foundation for sustainable development." Photos: @presidencia_cl

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In 2015, Doug Tompkins, founder of the North Face and Esprit labels, died in a kayaking accident in Chile. The Chilean government just signed a deal with his widow Kristine McDivitt Tompkins to designate a national park network. Mrs. Tompkins was the previous CEO of Patagonia clothing brand.

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For many decades, the couple made tireless efforts to protect the Patagonia region. Their non-profit organization, Tompkins Conservation, protects an area estimated the size of Switzerland.

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Today is a historic day for conservation! The Network of National Parks of Chile has been created, and now Pumalín Park and Patagonia Park are national parks of Chile. This donation has been billed as the single largest public/private national park effort to date. Together, the Chilean government and Tompkins Conservation are adding a total of more than 10 million acres of new national parklands to Chile, with one million acres of land from Tompkins Conservation and 9 million acres of federal land from Chile. As national parks, these lands will be permanently protected at the highest degree of conservation. Video by @jamesqmartin and @chriscresci #nationalparks #conservation #patagonia

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This donation is considered to be the largest of land given to a country by private owners. Michelle Bachelet, Chilean President, refers to the deal as:

“an unprecedented preservation effort”.

This will create five new national parks and expand three existing parks, which equates to 10 million acres of land. 90% of it was donated by the couple. The parks will widen a route catered to tourists that spans more than 1,500 miles across Chile.

In 1994, the Tompkins moved to Chile to focus on Patagonia conservation by purchasing lands for ecological wilderness and preservations. Despite their efforts, Chilean locals always viewed them with suspicion, according to BBC. Particularly the right-wing Chilean politicians accused the couple of “land grabbing.”

In 2017 following her husband’s accident, Mrs. Tompkins signed an agreement with the Chilean government and said:

“I am proud of my husband Doug and his vision which continues to guide us, in addition to our entire team, for completing these two national parks and the broader network, a major milestone of our first 25 years of work.”

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