Protecting Wilderness as an Act of Democracy

By Kristine McDivitt Tomkins – The New York Times 


We need a new story about the Earth that isn’t just a litany of alarming statistics about crashing wildlife populations, polluted air and water, and climate chaos. We need a story that reminds us that the continuing degradation of landscapes and the seas is not necessarily a one-way street toward irreversible destruction.

On Monday we began to write such a story with the government of Chile. Under the wide skies of the new Patagonia National Park, President Michelle Bachelet and I formalized the largest-ever expansion of a national park system prompted by a donation of private land.

Our organization, Tompkins Conservation, has donated roughly one million acres of privately assembled conservation land to Chile for national parks. Also included were lodging, campground and dining facilities, and trails, bridges and roads. In accepting the gift, the Chilean government is creating five new parks and expanding three others. With roughly nine million acres of federal land from Chile, these new parks add 10.3 million acres to Chile’s excellent park system. This is more than three times the size of Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks combined.

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