10 million acres added to Chile’s national park system

The announcement marked the culmination of a plan to create a network of five new national parks in Chile.

Article by Erik Hoffner.

Yesterday, as a herd of guanacos grazed in the distance, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet declared, “With these beautiful lands, their forests, their rich ecosystems, [we] expand the network of parks to more than 10 million acres. Thus, national parklands in Chile will increase by 38.5% to account for 81.1% of Chile’s protected areas.”

A buzzard eagle soared above as a guanaco in the grasslands behind her took a dust bath in seeming approval.

The announcement marked the culmination of a plan agreed to in March 2017 by Bachelet and Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, President and CEO of Tompkins Conservation, to create a network of five new national parks in Chile, and the expansion of three others.

Tompkins Conservation is a US-based foundation aimed at preventing biodiversity loss and was founded by Kristine and Doug Tompkins, business leaders of clothing brands The North Face, Esprit, and Patagonia. Doug Tompkins passed away after a kayaking accident on Chile’s Lake General Carrera in 2015, and Kristine has carried the mission forward.

“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,” Tompkins said during the signing. “While we will continue to help promote and safeguard these parks, we are beginning to turn our attention [to] new conservation and rewilding projects in Chile and Argentina as we work to save and restore big, wild, and connected ecosystems.”

Chile adds Tompkins Conservation’s million acres to 9 million acres of its own federal land. The signed decrees create Pumalín National Park and Patagonia National Park Chile.

Read our March 2017 interview with Kristine Tompkins to learn more about the genesis of this project here.

Kristine Tompkins and President Michelle Bachelet sign a pledge in March 2017 to expand national parkland in Chile by 10 million acres. Source: Tompkins Conservation.

Banner photo: Pumalín Park, via Tompkins Conservation