15 Jan 2014

New National Park to be created in Chile

The new Yendegaia National Park is the result of a long-time team effort (Julyinireland;
The new Yendegaia National Park is the result of a long-time team effort (Julyinireland;
By Martin Fowlie

Tierra del Fuego, Chile will gain a spectacular new national park through a landmark public-private collaboration between President Sebastian Piñera and Fundación Yendegaia, a branch of Douglas and Kristine Tompkins’ conservation projects. Fundación Yendegaia will donate the former Estancia Yendegaia (94,000 acres) toward the creation of the new national park, while the Chilean government will annex 276,000 acres of adjacent government land, to be upgraded to national park status. The new park will be among Chile’s largest, only slightly smaller than the iconic and nearby Torres del Paine National Park.

The Tompkins were recently awarded a BirdLife Conservation Achievement Award at BirdLife’s World Congress in Ottawa, Canada.

Protecting 370,000 acres of mountains, glaciers, rare sub-Antarctic forest, lakes, and rivers, the park stretches from the Darwin Range to the Argentine border, and from the Beagle Channel to Fagnago Lake. Yendegaia creates a contiguous biological corridor between Chile’s Alberto D’Agostini National Park and Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego National Park. The new park protects the last frontier of pristine sub-Antarctic beech forest, one of Earth’s largest remnants of Gondwana, the last supercontinent from 180 million years ago. Long declared a “Priority Site for Conservation,” the area provides key habitat for three species in danger of extinction (red fox, river otter, and ruddy-headed geese), and a broad range of native flora and fauna, included 128 vascular plant species and 49 bird species.

Doug Tompkins reflected: “Yendegaia National Park is the result of a long-time team effort, and Kris and I are proud to have worked alongside a remarkable group of people, from visionary funders to dedicated Chilean conservationists. One of the original donors passed away some years ago, but I know he would be delighted today to hear the news. Our whole team feels proud of this accomplishment, as does the team of the Presidency. This is a historic moment—the creation of a new national park always is—and we hope that all Chilean share in this excitement. Lastly, we all must credit President Piñera for his commitment to this project, from the first discussions. As a first-rate conservationist in his own right, with his remarkable Tantauco Park, Piñera might be the greatest conservationist-president in the world today, and we are grateful for this opportunity to work together.”