30 January 2018

Chile creates 5 national parks in a momentous conservation move

Chile is turning more than 10 million acres of land into 5 new national parks in a major expansion of its parklands in order to protect some of the country’s prestigious rainforests and grasslands.

Previously, the land was owned by US philanthropists Doug Tompkins- the founder of the clothing label North Face, Esprit, and Patagonia, and his wife Kristine McDivitt Tompkins.

This week Mrs. Tompkins, President, and CEO of Tompkins Conservation- the non-profit organisation managing the lands, signed an agreement with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to turn the area into two national parks; the Pumalín National Park and the Patagonia National Park Chile.

This is the execution of a pledge made by the 2 parties in March 2017 to create a network of 5 new national parks in the country and the expansion of an additional 3.

The act has been characterised as the largest donation of land ever recorded from a private entity to a country.

The newly acquired land will account for more than 1 million acres of new national parklands. Together with an additional 9 million acres of federal land from Chile, the new national parks will approximately be the size of Switzerland.

With the new 5 parks signed into law, President Bachelet launched a massive conservation campaign to establish in total 17 new national parks, bringing Chile to the forefront of global conservation efforts.

President Bachelet said: “This is not just an unprecedented act of preservation. 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 is the only profitable development in the long term”.

Maximiliano Bello from the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy program, commented: “President Bachelet is leaving behind a bold legacy of environmental protection”.

“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”, he added. 

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