Chile Creates 11 Million Acres Of New National Parks

The South American country of Chile is making news as 11 million acres of beautiful private land and wildlands are now under protection. Chile, a country which ranges from dusty northern lands to frosty tundras in the south. It all started when the Tompkins Foundation agreed to donate one million acres of their land to Chile for national parks within the country to be created. This is the largest land donation in history from a private entity to a country. This foundation was set up by the husband and wife duo of Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, the former CEO of the Patagonia clothing brand, and the late Doug Tompkins, co-founder of North Face and Esprit clothing. During the 1990s, the couple bought massive chunks of land in Patagonia to help protect the land from development, much to the annoyance of the Chilean government and developers who accused the couple of being spies for the CIA or attempting to establish some new Jewish state. Tragically, Doug Tompkins died of severe hypothermia after a kayaking accident in 2015 in southern Chile.

Last week, however, old differences were settled, and the Michelle Bachelet the Chilean President met their pledge and agreed to expand the national parkland in Chile by a further 10 million acres. The agreement will create five new national parks in Chile to establish a 17-park network, which will span the length of the country and be known as the Route of Parks. Overall, the national parkland will encompass 11 million acres of protected land, larger than the whole country of Denmark. The 11 million acres of Chilean parkland will help build Chileís proposed Route of Parks, a 17-park network that spans more than 1,500 miles from Puerto Montt to Cape Horn.

The Route of Parks aims to be an ecological safeguard, an ecotourism attraction, and an economic boost for South Chile. Estimates of the Route of Parks impact suggest about $270 million in annual revenue and up to 43,000 new jobs in the country. The land donation came to the country thanks to the help of the Tompkins Conservation, a land trust dedicated to creating new national parks. Doug Tompkins was the founder of The North Face, and he founded the Tompkins Conservation 25 years ago.

Kristine Tompkins says she wishes her husband Doug, whose vision inspired todayís historic pledge, were here on this memorable day. And goes on to say that the conservation team feels his absence deeply. Tompkins knows that if her husband were here today, he would speak of national parks being one of the greatest expressions of democracy that a country can realize, and by preserving the masterpieces of a nation for all of its citizens. Though Doug Tompkins passed away in 2015, his wife, Kristine Tompkin, continues with the Conservationís mission to combat biodiversity loss by rewilding natural habitats and expanding protected lands. With the 11-million acre donation in Chile, the Tompkins will have protected more than 13 million acres. In 1993, Doug Tompkins married Kristine L. McDivitt, a former chief executive of the Patagonia retail chain. The couple worked together on conservation projects. The Tompkins' conservation efforts focused on preserving wild landscapes and biodiversity. After purchasing large blocks of wilderness, the couple worked to create national parks, believing that this governmental designation serves as the best mode of guaranteeing long-term conservation of land. In 2007, Doug Tompkins was appointed as an honorary member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, in recognition of all the work he had done restoring damaged landscapes.

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