5 new national parks in Chile

President Michelle Bachelet signed decrees Monday creating vast new national parks in the South American country.
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President Michelle Bachelet signed decrees Monday creating vast new national parks in the South American country.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has created five massive national parks to preserve the Patagonia, thanks to an astounding donation from Doug Tompkins and Kristine McDivitt Tompkins.

Doug Tompkins founded The North Face and Esprit and tragically died after a kayaking accident in Chile in 2015 at 72-years-old. His wife, Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, is the former CEO of Patagonia. The couple spent 25 years working towards land conservation in Chile, pledging to protect land in the developing country.

The five parks total 10.3 million acres and are believed to be part of the largest donation of private entity to government. McDivitt Tompkins donated one million acres of that land and the rest was provided from federally controlled land.

“This is not only an unprecedented preservation effort,” Bachelet said at a ceremony commencing the plan.

“It’s also an invitation to imagine other ways of rationally occupying our lands, of creating other economic activities, of using natural resources without preying on them. In other words, it’s about generating sustainable development.”

The plan is to increase Chile’s national parkland by more than 15,600 square miles (40,400 square kilometers). Bachelet said that would expand national parklands in Chile by 38.5 percent. The size of the protected land is approximately three times the size of Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks combined.

“President Bachelet is leaving behind a bold legacy of environmental protection,” Maximiliano Bello, an advisor to the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy program told The Guardian. “This is more impressive because Chile is still a developing country, with a long history of development and exploitation of resources – in most cases over-exploitation. If Chile can take these huge environmental steps, there are few reasons why developed nations can’t act as well,” he said.

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