Conservación Patagónica and Douglas Tompkins: A Legacy of Natural Restoration in Latin America

May 18, 2018

by Walter Vergara

Conservación Patagónica and Douglas Tompkins: A Legacy of Natural Restoration in Latin America

Conservación Patagónica (CP), established by conservationists Douglas and Kristine Tompkins in 2000, is a community of people committed to the future of Patagonia, thought to be one of the wildest places left on the planet. The mission of CP is to create national parks in this southern region of South America which save and restore wild lands and wildlife, inspire care for the natural world, and generate healthy economic opportunities for local communities.

Douglas and Kristine pioneered conservation and restoration in Patagonia. Together they bought and protected almost one million hectares of wilderness in Chile and Argentina, the two countries that make up Patagonia,. The majority of this land, the most ever put under protection by private individuals, was acquired for the creation of national parks.

Dedicated to ecosystem restoration, with the goal of saving biodiversity, they began the future Patagonia National Park project in 2004. This major initiative of CP has already enjoyed success in four main areas: buying land, restoring biodiversity, building public access and engaging communities.

In December 2015, Douglas tragically died in a kayaking accident on Lake General Carrera, Southern Chile. Co-founder of outdoor company North Face and clothing brand Esprit, he had given up his corporate lifestyle in 1989 to put his fortunes into saving South American ecosystems.

Paula, a Chilean magazine, published an interview with Tompkins shortly before he died. When asked about his legacy, he said, “People will walk on these lands. Don’t you think that’s more beautiful than a tomb?”

Douglas is survived by his wife Kris, who continues his legacy of natural restoration and conservation work in Chile and Argentina. CP has pledged to restore and conserve around one million hectares of Patagonian land as part of Initiative 20x20.