Kristine Tompkins, former CEO of Patagonia Inc., donated 1 million acres she and her late husband, Doug Tompkins, acquired in Chile as part of an agreement to expand the country’s national parkland by roughly 11 million acres. The donation is being billed as the world’s largest donation of privately held land.
The donation was marked on Thursday by a ceremony at Chile’s Pumalín Park with with Chilean president Michelle Bachelet. The area being preserved is more than four times the size of Yellowstone National Park.
Doug Tompkins, who died in 2015, co-founded The North Face and Esprit, before marrying Kristine Tompkins, who spent her 20 years as CEO of Patagonia. She started in its the brand’s formative years as a climbing brand before retiring in 1993. The two moved to south Chile after she retired.
The couple started buying and conserving land in South America and have conserved more than 3.4 million acres of land in Chile and Argentina, personally investing $345 million in park projects and philanthropic work, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
The agreement will expand three national parks and create five new ones, including the Pumalin and Patagonia parks. Under the agreement, Melimoyu Park will also be designated as a national park, while Cerro Castillo and Alacalufe reserves will be reclassified as national parks. Meanwhile, the Hornopirén, Corcovado and Isla Magdalena national parks will be expanded.
“Like most big ideas, to achieve them there must be partners who share the vision, those who can imagine a place or time a hundred years from now and do what is necessary to create something spectacular, something that will withstand the test of time,” Tompkins said in a statement. “And this we have found in the partnership with President Bachelet and her government.”
“I wish my husband Doug, whose vision inspired today’s historic pledge, were here on this memorable day,” Tompkins said. “He would speak of national parks being one of the greatest expressions of democracy that a country can realize, preserving the masterpieces of a nation for all of its citizenry.”
Photo courtesy Conservacion Patagonica