Corcovado National Park is a 726,000-acre wilderness of shimmering lakes and snow-capped mountains anchored by the Corcovado volcano, often called “the Matterhorn of South America.” In 2005, Corcovado became Chile’s newest national park when then-president Ricardo Lagos inaugurated it, securing lasting protection for this marvelous landscape. Corcovado is a proud testament to the power of public-private collaboration: its creation was spurred by the largest-ever donation of private land to Chile’s national park system, which came jointly from American philanthropist Peter Buckley and the Conservation Land Trust.
Two weeks ago, the Conservation Land Trust hosted two book launch events—one on the 6th of August in Puerto Varas, the other on 8th in Santiago. Celebrating the publication of Corcovado served as an occasion to highlight the power of public-private conservation partnerships, discuss the enduring value of national parks, and generate enthusiasm for wilderness conservation in general.
At the Santiago book launch, Doug Tompkins was joined by Carlos Cuevas, former director of Fundación Pumalín, former president Ricardo Lagos, and former commander in Chief Juan Emilio Cheyre. Each of these men was instrumental to the completion of the Corcovado project, from Doug’s tenacious idea-building, to Lagos’ visionary leadership, to Cheyre’s reimagination of the value of public lands from a military standpoint.
Around two hundred members of the public were in attendance, including the United States Ambassador to Chile, environmental movement leaders, representatives from CONAF (the Chilean Parks’ Service) and the Aysén region, and members of the press. Doug addressed the assembly with his excitement about the book launch, and also with some hopeful yet cautionary words about the importance of conservation: “there is enormous pressure on our ecosystems with the expansion of human development…. We must believe in national parks, and always remember the importance of wilderness protected areas for the defense of biodiversity.”
Corcovado National Park is a lush photo tour of Chile’s new coastal jewel, and a wonderful collection of stories narrating its creation. Corcovado is heavy with page upon page of stunning landscapes and wildlife closeups from the park by photographer Antonio Vizcaíno.
Corcovado is not only a testament to the beauty of this nearly untouched wilderness, but also a monument to the dedicated, visionary people who worked from different angles to make this massive conservation effort a reality. Accounts from the key players in the park’s foundation allow the reader to see the challenges and lasting value of large-scale conservation efforts. Former president Ricardo Lagos believes the ongoing work of conservation will continue, for the betterment of Chile. “This is a truly great challenge,” he writes, “to enjoy these fjords, bays, valleys, kales, forests, volcanoes, and mountains—to make them available for research, education, recreation and tourism—in a way that leaves them intact and healthy forever.”