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Former Patagonia CEO makes the largest private land donation to a country ever to protect biodiversity

Kris Tompkins spent millions to purchase land in South America only to give it back as a donation to the Chilean public.

Former Patagonia CEO makes the largest private land donation to a country ever to protect biodiversity
Cover Image Source: Kristine Tompkins attends 'Wild Life' New York premiere at the Museum of Modern Art on April 11, 2023, in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

Imagine a world where every other rich person is doing their best to protect the environment and acting as responsible individuals to lessen the damage mankind has caused to nature. Well, every rich fellow might not be spending their wealth selflessly for the benefit of the world and the deteriorating environmental conditions, but Kristine 'Kris' McDivitt Tompkins is not one of them. Instead of splurging her money on a luxurious lifestyle, the former CEO of sports apparel line Patagonia is spending her wealth making huge donations.

Image Source: Kris Tompkins attends National Geographic Documentary Films “Wild Life” LA Premiere at Samuel Goldwyn Theater on May 23, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for National Geographic Documentary Films)
Image Source: Kris Tompkins attends National Geographic Documentary Films “Wild Life” LA Premiere at Samuel Goldwyn Theater on May 23, 2023, in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for National Geographic Documentary Films)

Tompkins comes from a privileged background where her father was in the oil industry and her late husband Doug was the founder of The North Face Inc. and Esprit clothing brands. She has now spent millions to buy land in South America and it was then returned to the Chilean public, per the reports of Reasons to be Cheerful. Tompkins gifted her nearly one million hectares of property to the Chilean government in 2018 and 2019 and others to the Argentinian government. According to CBS News, it was recorded as the largest private land donation in history.


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Tompkins Conservation (@tompkins_conservation)


 

This donation expanded six national parts and conserved 14.7 million acres of land and 30 million marine acres. Per the agreements with the government, these lands will remain protected for at least 99 years. While donating, Tompkins knew that it was not enough to simply turn these areas into public property, but it was also crucial to protect the biodiversity that bloomed there. Due to pollution caused by mankind, several species of South American animals are under threat of endangerment and extinction.


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Tompkins Conservation (@tompkins_conservation)


 

"It's not enough to protect the land. We have to bring back the species that have been missing," Tompkins told Reasons to Be Cheerful. "Landscape without wildlife is just scenery. We consider the extinction crisis the mother of all crises that must be addressed. The entire ecosphere and its future depend on healthy, vibrant and rich biodiversity." Tompkins and her organization, Tompkins Conservation, started putting efforts to ensure the survival of some of these endangered species, such as Huemul deer, collared peccary, Andean condor, Darwin's Rhea, green and red macaws, tapirs and giant anteaters.

According to the outlet, her organization's efforts marked the first time since macaws or anteaters were ever rewilded. Tompkins described her land donation as a sort of "capitalist jujitsu move," where she deployed private wealth from business to protect nature from being devoured by the hand of the global economy. Reported by The Guardian, Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, donated the whole firm to a specifically structured trust and nonprofit to direct all of the company's income toward environmental initiatives.



 

"As of now, Earth is our only shareholder," the company announced in a statement. "All profit, in perpetuity, will go to our mission to save our home planet." Chouinard, 85, collaborated with his wife and two children, as well as teams of corporate attorneys to develop a framework that will allow Patagonia to remain operational as a for-profit business, with earnings going out to only climate-action efforts.

Image Source: Yvon Chouinard and Kris Tompkins speak onstage during National Geographic Documentary Films “Wild Life” LA Premiere at Samuel Goldwyn Theater on May 23, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for National Geographic Documentary Films)
Image Source: Yvon Chouinard and Kris Tompkins speak onstage during National Geographic Documentary Films “Wild Life” LA Premiere at Samuel Goldwyn Theater on May 23, 2023, in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for National Geographic Documentary Films)

"While we're doing our best to address the environmental crisis, it's not enough. We needed to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company's values intact," announced the company in its statement. The owners contemplated that an option could have been to sell Patagonia and donate, but they "couldn't be sure a new owner would maintain our values or keep our team of people around the world employed." They contemplated taking the company public but thought that option would be a "disaster."



 

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