The widow of Douglas Tompkins, the co-founder of outdoor product company North Face and fashion and lifestyle brand Esprit, has offered 400,000 hectares of land in Patagonia to the Chile government. Kristine McDivitt Tompkins is currently in talks with the Chilean government on turning the land into national parks.
Negotiations between Kristine and the Chilean government is expected to take two years. She discussed the donation with Chile's President Michelle Bachelet following the death of Tompkins in a kayaking accident in General Carrera Lake in Patagonia in December last year.
Tompkins, an outdoors person and conservationist left the corporate lifestyle in San Francisco to Argentina and Chile, where he bought large plots of land to conserve them. His purchase large real estate however did not go down well with the local authorities. In addition to land in Argentina and Chile, the 72-year-old had also bought over 2 million acres of wilderness in South Africa which is being conserved by various environmental trusts.
"The process will take a long time," Kristine said. "We won't be deciding the timing and I know there will be a compromise both sides will have to make to work through all the stages that will be necessary."
The latest tranche of land being offered to the Chile government was made on condition that it will be used to create national parks which people could freely visit, Kristine said following the meeting with President Bachelet.
She continued: "We want people from all over the world to be able to visit these places. With the donation of these parks, Chile will be able to offer a historic legacy to the world."
Last month, Kristine met up with the new Argentinean President Mauricio Macri to donate 150,000 hectares of threatened wetlands near the border with Brazil with the hope of creating the Ibera National Park.
The couple have invested more than $375m in conservation. They have also donated part of their lands acquired in Chile and Argentina to create four national parks.
In 2005, the Tompkins donated 294 hectares near the Corcovado volcano, creating the sixth largest national park in Chile - the Corcovado National Park.