Chile has created two new national parks and expanded another three thanks to 400 thousand hectares donated by the former executive director of Patagonia Kristine McDivitt Tompkins and another 3,600 thousand hectares declared national parks by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.
The total size is approximately that of Switzerland.
The two new parks, the Pumalín National Park and the Patagonia Chile National Park, are already open to the public and are now permanently protected for visitors and the wildlife that lives there.
The expansion of nearly 43 percent of the national parks in Chile marks the culmination of a more than 20-year effort by McDivitt Tompkins and her husband, Doug Tompkins, founder of The North Face and Esprit clothing companies. The couple spent more than two decades acquiring and restoring land in southern Chile, such as the Chacabuco Valley (pictured).
While locals and businesses were initially angered by the American land grab, when the Tompkins Conservation Foundation reached out to the community to brainstorm ideas and create more jobs in the area, tensions generally eased.
The new and expanded parks are intended to be part of the “Route of the Parks” initiative, a government plan to link 17 parks along 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers), from Puerto Montt to Cape Horn. The Tompkins Conservation estimates that the initiative has the potential to generate $ 270 million in ecotourism-related revenue each year and employ up to 43,000 people in the region.
By Noel Kirkpatrick
Original article (in English)