Photo: Linde Waidhofer
As you may have already heard, January 29th, 2018 was an historic day for Chile and for Tompkins Conservation. On a clear summer afternoon, we welcomed President Michelle Bachelet to Patagonia Park headquarters to sign the decrees creating the network of Patagonia parks, solidifying the pledge we both signed in March 2017 to create five new national parks and expand three more. I was proud to represent TC on behalf of Doug and our team members and partners around the world. After 25 years of work, we can hardly believe this day finally arrived.
The collection of land and infrastructure we donated for Patagonia National Park Chile alone took 14 years of work and many partners. Supporters from Hong Kong to Laguna Beach, from schoolteachers to investment banking executives, employees, volunteers, and partners of Conservacion Patagonica and The Conservation Land Trust have made immeasurable contributions to this shared endeavor – This grand donation and parks creation, the largest of its kind in history, would not have been possible without all of your help. The one million acres given by Tompkins Conservation, combined with nine million acres of federal land designated by the government, will expand Chile’s national parklands by over 10.3 million acres. The signing of these decrees cements Chile as one of the global leaders in conservation today.
President Michelle Bachelet and key ministers sign the national park decrees, January 29th, 2018. Photo: Linde Waidhofer
The one million acres given by Tompkins Conservation, combined with nine million acres of federal land designated by the government, will expand Chile’s national parklands by over 10 million acres.
In an era filled with very discouraging news about the daily destruction of our beautiful planet, we hope this day is a reminder to everyone that there are still ways to fight back. After the announcement, The New York Times published my op-ed “Protecting Wilderness as an Act of Democracy,” which may serve as a reminder that the continuing degradation of wilderness is not the only path forward.
Doug and I have always been firm believers that a country’s natural masterpieces are best held and protected by the public for the common good. National Parks are the gold standard of conservation—they belong to everybody. They remind us that we are part of something larger than ourselves. National Parks, monuments and other public lands remind us that regardless of race, economic standing or citizenship, we are all part of the community of Life.
Kristine Tompkins and President Michelle Bachelet visit the Patagonia Park cemetery and the grave of Douglas Tompkins just before the donation ceremony. Photo: Dani Casado
The story of the creation of these parks, this wild legacy, belongs to us all. I am forever grateful for your involvement, the work we have done together, Doug’s incredible vision, and this spectacular commitment by the government of Chile. We hope you can all take a moment to enjoy this unprecedented step towards the protection of wild nature.
Kristine McDivitt Tompkins
President, Tompkins Conservation