With the largest land donation ever, Chile expands its national park network by an area three times the size of Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks combined.
This week, alongside Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, former CEO of Patagonia and head of Tompkins Conservation, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet pledged to create five new national parks. The announcement came thanks to an 11-million-acre private land donation, the largest such donation ever.
Among the new parks, one million acres will go to finalizing both Pumalin and Patagonia national parks. And three other existing parks will expand.
“Today, alongside Kris, I am honored to see how everything has come together,” said President Bachelet. “We are bequeathing to the country the greatest creation of protected areas in our history.”
Route Of Parks
The 11 million acres of parkland will help build Chile’s proposed “Route of Parks,” a 17-park network spanning more than 1,500 miles from Puerto Montt to Cape Horn.
The Route aims to be an ecological safeguard, ecotourism attraction, and economic boost for South Chile. Estimates of the Route’s impact suggest $270 million in annual revenue and up to 43,000 new jobs.
The land donation came thanks to the help of Tompkins Conservation, a land trust dedicated to creating new national parks. Doug Tompkins, founder of The North Face founded the Tompkins Conservation 25 years ago.
Though he passed away in 2015, his wife, Kristine, continues to champion the Conservation’s mission: Combat biodiversity loss by “rewilding” natural habitats, and expanding protected lands.
With the 11-million acre donation in Chile, Tompkins will have protected more than 13 million acres.