Kris Tompkins Living An Impactful, Purposeful Life

Kris Tompkins Living An Impactful, Purposeful Life

Courtesy of Oceana, Caleta Tortel, Chile.

Oceana supporter Kristine McDivitt Tompkins has led a very eventful and impactul life.

The former CEO of Patagonia and globally lauded conservationist has worked to create new national parks, recover imperiled wildlife, and operate organic farms in South America since 1993. She and her late husband Douglas Tompkins (the founder of The North Face died in 2015) are often described as the most ambitious and successful national park-oriented philanthropists in history, helping to secure millions of acres of new parklands in Chile and Argentina.

Although the former ski racer was born and raised on a ranch in southern California, she later helped build Patagonia with rock climbing legend and equipment manufacturer Yvon Chouinard. After 20 years as CEO, she channeled her energy and talents to saving nature’s beauty and diversity. In 2000, Tompkins founded the nonprofit Conservacion Patagonica to create national parks in Patagonia that save and restore wildlands and wildlife, inspire care for the natural world, and generate healthy economic opportunities for local communities.

Conservacion Patagonica’s first project was the establishment of the 155,000-acre Monté Leon National Park, which protects a 25-mile expanse of Atlantic coastline in Santa Cruz Province and was the first coastal national park on the Argentine mainland. In 2004, Kris and the Conservacion Patagonica team launched the Patagonia National Park project to establish a new 722,000-acre national park.

Most recently, she donated a million acres of land to create a new national park, Parque Pumalin in Chile.

As an Oceana supporter, she worked with Andrew Sharpless, CEO of Oceana, and administration of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet who recently enacted laws to protect large areas of the ocean around Chile that include some of the most biodiverse and productive ocean places on Planet Earth.

Sharpless explains, “This change means that more than 25% of Chile’s ocean is protected as marine parks. Oceana’s Vice President for Chile, Liesbeth Van de Meer, was present at the ceremonies when President Bachelet made this announcement signaling the central role Oceana has played in winning policy victories that have made Chile a true global leader in ocean conservation.

The new protected areas include 262,000 square kilometers surrounding the Juan Fernandez Islands (with Robinson Crusoe Island) and over 6,702 square kilometers area around the southern town of Tortel and Parque Pumalin with the help of Kris.

The islands are home to seas full of wildlife found nowhere else on earth. Oceana worked closely with the local communities and small-scale fishers over several years to win protections for the sea while also preserving their own sustainable lobster and fishing efforts. Oceana also partnered closely with National Geographic’s Pristine Seas project on this closure via joint expeditions, reports and direct advocacy

Oceana Vice President for Chile, Liesbeth Van de Meer described the area, “The marine parks created are going to be laboratories for the world.”

Sharpless continued, “The protected area in Tortel will be divided into an ocean area in the Golfo de Penas and another inland area covering the channels that surround Caleta Tortel. Two years ago, the fjords at Caleta Tortel were threatened by the installation of salmon fish farms which often wreaks havoc on marine ecosystems and the communities dependent on them (like Tortel). Caleta Tortel is a top destination for visitors to Chile’s Patagonia. There are no streets; all the houses are connected by wooden walkways. The proposal to protect Tortel was supported by Oceana over several years, and the need for protections was brought to life by five Oceana expeditions through photos, videos and scientific surveys. Our expeditions brought the species hidden below the surface to life — including Chilean dolphins and the colorful sponges and corals — and made it clear why these protections are so crucial.”

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Steven Munatones