Portrait: Douglas Tompkins, environmental activist and eco-entrepreneur

Sunday, 28 November 2010 - 12:34 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Portrait
Reading Time:  4 minutes

DouglasTompkins © LatinTrade.com

DouglasTompkins © LatinTrade.com

From time to time we portrait people with exceptional CV’s who try to make the world a better place with a lot of engagement:

Douglas (Doug) Tompkins is an American environmental activist and eco-entrepreneur. The founder and manager of The North Face and Esprit has become the largest private landowner in Chile. In 1990 he sold his shares of both companies for 250 million dollars and has since acquired huge areas in Patagonia (southern Argentina and Chile) to create national parks. 1991 Douglas Tompkins bought the Reñihué Ranch with the intent to protect the rain forest-covered terrain. In the following years he bought together with the U.S. Environmental Foundation The Conservation Land Trust other related areas.

In Chile Tompkins has acquired 3,000 sq km land in an area, which stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the heights of the Andes on the border to Argentina. His goal is to create a contiguous protected area with the official status of a reserve. With his Chilean EDUCEC Foundation (Education, Ciencia y Ecologia), he has acquired large areas of the Parque Pumalin. The park is located in the Región de los Lagos in Chaitén. Tompkins has bought a total of over 10,000 sq km land in Chile and Argentina.

Conservative forces in Chile and the lobby of the entrepreneurs fought for years against his projects. They saw a danger in Tompkins for the Chilean national interests, especially for the country’s development and economic exploitation of the rain forest areas. But not only among entrepreneurs and conservatives there are opponents of his projects.

Chile’s environmental laws encourage this type of private initiative, although the Foundation receives no financial help from the Chilean State. Since this is a new kind of environmental commitment in Chile, the project was faced with some political resistance, particularly from those who do not understand how a private initiative for environmental protection work. Nevertheless, slowly but surely confidence could be established, both at local and national level, and the project continues to progress and is now open to the public as it was originally intended. Thus, the tourist infrastructure is developed in accordance with strict rules to preserve the natural, similar to the services that exist across the world in other National Parks. There are hiking trails, campgrounds, information centers, cafes, restaurants and cabins were set up and attractions on land and sea are developed. Thousands of visitors have already taken advantage of this offer.

For further information please visit Tompkins Conservation.


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