American Conservation Philanthropists Receive Highest Biodiversity Conservation Award in Latin America


BBVA Foundation Awardee Kristine Tompkins Meets with Argentina’s President to Create the Country’s Largest Park

Media Contact: Astrid Vargas,

September 23, 2016—Buenos Aires—The BBVA Foundation has awarded the 2016 Biodiversity Conservation Award of Latin America to the Conservation Land Trust, a Tompkins Conservation foundation. This is the highest award that exists worldwide in the field of biodiversity conservation and has been awarded to Tompkins Conservation for “their great contribution to the conservation of biodiversity in Chile and Argentina through the creation and expansion of eight large protected areas that span over one million hectares, gifted to the respective governments for public access.” The award also recognizes the range of Tompkins Conservation programs such as private land purchase, habitat restoration, endangered species recovery, and the creation of economic alternatives in collaboration with local communities. The other winners of the award include Grupo para la Rehabilitación de la Fauna Autóctona y su Hábitat (GREFA), and journalist Carlos de Hita for his evocative “soundscapes” of nature.

The BBVA Foundation Award committee also recognized, posthumously, “the vision and leadership of Douglas Tompkins, founder of the Conservation Land Trust, and the value of altruistic participation in the conservation of nature.” Douglas died in December 2015 in a kayak accident on a lake in Chilean Patagonia.

Currently Tompkins Conservation is working in partnership with government to create six new national parks in Chile and Argentina, expand four existing parks, and help recover 12 endangered species of fauna. The total area preserved after the creation of these 15 national and 2 provincial parks will be over 6 million hectares (the size of six Yellowstone National Parks), presenting the world’s largest private land donation initiative for biodiversity conservation.

On the same day that the award became public, Kristine Tompkins met with the President of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, in the president’s official residence, to arrange the donation of Conservation Land Trust lands in order to create Iberá National Park. Once the donation is complete, the joint Iberá National Park and Iberá Provincial Park will be the largest protected natural area in Argentina. Tompkins Conservation has developed the most ambitious rewilding program in the Americas in Iberá, with the reintroduction of at least six locally extinct species of wildlife, including the jaguar, the largest cat in the Americas. Tompkins Conservation cooperates with authorities, companies, and foundations surrounding the park so that the approximately 100,000 people living in this vast region can benefit from the ecotourism that already exists in Iberá and is expected to increase dramatically with the creation of the new national park.

Douglas and Kristine Tompkins, both entrepreneurs of famous American sportswear brands including The North Face, Esprit, and Patagonia, Inc., decided to change the course of their lives over two decades ago and devote all their funds, their time and passion to fight the biggest crisis in the world: the crisis of biodiversity loss. After careful analysis of the best way to combat the crisis of biodiversity, Kristine and Douglas concluded that the most effective way would be through the creation of large national parks where evolutionary processes could take their course. National parks represent the “gold standard” of biodiversity conservation, offering a unique set of ecological attributes, cultural values, ​​and economic benefits to local communities, and presenting the best guarantee of long-term conservation. Tompkins Conservation are also leaders in the Americas in what is known as “rewilding”: the task of reintroducing and restoring wildlife species that have disappeared from a region due to human pressures.

The example Douglas and Kristine Tompkins have made in the field of nature-focused philanthropy is exemplary. Their generosity, altruism, and commitment to the protection and restoration of wild nature is helping to change the global mindset in the field of philanthropy, which overwhelmingly has focused on cultural and social issues. The positive, hopeful work of the Tompkins Conservation team shows how bold, strategic philanthropy can protect beauty and biodiversity while improving the quality of life and income of people living in rural areas.

About Tompkins Conservation: Tompkins Conservation’s mission is to rewild the planet. We pursue this mission by creating national parks, reintroducing missing species, conserving biodiversity, restoring degraded lands, encouraging environmental activism, and supporting ecological agriculture. This work is accomplished through a group of charitable organizations founded by Kristine and Douglas Tompkins that are known collectively as Tompkins Conservation and through agricultural businesses owned by them personally.

For more information please visit

About Conservation Land Trust (CLT): CLT is dedicated to creating and/or expanding national or provincial parks to ensure the perpetuity of their ecological and evolutionary processes with the strongest long-term protection guarantee possible. CLT also supports programs for the protection of wildlife, reintroduction of locally extinct species, land restoration and programs for local development, normally involved in ecotourism, sustainable farming, and environmental education. Our programs at CLT are sustained by values that are based on an ecocentric view of the world, prioritizing the importance of ecosystems and all forms of life therein, regardless of their use to humans.

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About the BBVA Foundation: The Foundation engages in the promotion of research, advanced training and the transmission of scientific knowledge to society at large, focusing especially on the analysis of emerging issues in five strategic areas: Environment, Biomedicine and Health, Economy and Society, Basic Sciences and Technology, and Arts and Humanities. The BBVA Foundation designs, develops, and finances research projects in these areas; facilitates advanced, specialist training through grants, courses, seminars and workshops; organizes award schemes for researchers and professionals whose work has contributed significantly to the advancement of knowledge; and communicates and disseminates such new knowledge through publications, debates, and lectures.

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U.S. Media Contact: Alison Kelman –

Chile Media Contact: Carolina Morgado –


Filed under Other, Park Creation

3 Responses to American Conservation Philanthropists Receive Highest Biodiversity Conservation Award in Latin America

  1. Carlos Alberto Mantilla Gutiérrez

    Todo mi respeto para este hombre grande, único, inteligente, visionario, generoso, trabajador, enamorado de la vida, desprendido de la pequeñez, que le dio mil lecciones sobre el camino que hay que seguir para recuperar y conservar el planeta, a los políticos, que lo envidiaron y lo persiguieron. Fue incomprendido y mal leído por esa izquierda extenuada que queda en América Latina para perjudicar y dañar los derechos colectivos. Mil parabienes para su esposa Cristina que lo siguió y lo amó con la devoción de quien ama lo mejor de un ser humano: su compasión por la naturaleza.

    My respect for this great, unique, intelligent, visionary, generous and hardworking man, in love with life, detached from the smallness, which gave him a thousand lessons on the road to follow to recover and preserve the planet, politicians , who envied and persecuted. It was misunderstood and misread by the left debilitated left in Latin America to harm and damage collective rights. Thousand congratulations for his wife Cristina who followed him and loved him with the devotion of those who love the best of a human being: his compassion for nature.

  2. Olimpia Blu Gallo

    Un merecido reconocimiento a la gran obra de Douglas y Kris Tompkins.
    Los Parques por ellos creados son la sanación del alma y el espíritu del ser humano, se agranda el espíritu, se reconforta el alma.
    Es lo que a mí junto a mi esposo nos sucedió en Tierra del Fuego, al sur de ese mágico lugar en el Parque Yendegaia, a orillas de Bahía Inútil, específicamente en Puerto Yartou, no pude creer lo que nos estaba sucediendo. Toninas, toninas danzando en un espejo de agua ante nuestros ojos, era una danza especialmente hecha para nosotros, dije, ellas nos están queriendo transmitir algo, estaban danzando solo para nosotros pues no se veía ni un alma en muchos kilómetros a la redonda. Me desperté al otro día pensando en las toninas, a la orilla de un hermoso lago, el Lago Deseado, y fue ahí donde me dí cuenta que era lo que nos habían querido transmitir en su hermosa danza el día anterior, nos estaban queriendo decir que no estábamos solos en esa Isla, que ellas nos estaban protegiendo y que de allí saldríamos totalmente sanados y recuperados de nuestras profundas heridas, esas heridas que dejan huellas en el alma.
    Habíamos querido ir al fin de mundo para sanar nuestras heridas, estar en contacto con la naturaleza donde solo se escuchara el silencio, todo eso se cumplió y más aún.
    Volvimos totalmente sanados…… fueron las toninas?, fueron los dorados pastizales danzando onduladamente?, fue el viento? fueron esas hermosas nubes corriendo a gran velocidad sobres nuestras cabezas y que parecía que con solo levantar nuestras manos las podríamos tocar?, fue la inmensidad de la nada?, no lo se, solo puedo decir que luego de esa experiencia, luego de estar en ese contacto tan pleno con la naturaleza, me sentí más cerca de Dios.
    Eso…… eso es lo que Douglas y Kris están logrando conservar.
    Un gran abrazo para ellos dos.

  3. Olimpia Blu Gallo

    En mi comentario anterior me refiero al señor Douglas Tompkins como si aún estuviera vivo y es que creo el está presente en todo lo que creó junto a su esposa Kris y más aún, su presencia seguirá estando por siempre en el lugar donde descansan sus restos.

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