President Gabriel Boric met with Kristine Tompkins on March 1 to move forward with a proposed donation of 230,000 acres on behalf of Tompkins Conservation and Rewilding Chile toward the creation of a future national park on Cape Froward. The forthcoming process of park creation will include local stakeholders, including the indigenous communities of the area, as the land is ancestral Kawésqar territory.
Located 62 miles southwest of Punta Arenas, the first national park in Boric’s home county would also mark progress in the country’s stated goal at COP15 to protect 30% of land by 2030. In addition to the donated land, the proposal contemplates the reclassification of state-owned property in the sectors of Cape Froward and Batchelor River. If included, the resulting protected area would be larger than Grand Teton National Park in the United States. At the meeting, President Boric also expressed interest in exploring the option of an adjacent marine protected area.
Largely unexplored, this rugged region is a refuge for highly endangered species, including the huemul deer (Hippocamelus bisulcus), one of the most endangered large land mammals on the IUCN Red List, and the critically endangered ruddy-headed goose (Chloephaga rubidiceps). The peninsula marks a transitional ecosystem between land and sea, where diverse marine life, including Magellanic penguins, Peale’s dolphins, and Sei and humpback whales, feed off nutrients provided by the Antarctic, Pacific and Atlantic currents and coasts are lined with dense kelp forest. Subantarctic forest covers nearly half of the proposed donation area, which also features 24,710 acres of peatlands, an ecosystem considered critical to carbon storage and climate change mitigation.
For Kristine Tompkins, President of Tompkins Conservation, “It’s hard to believe that only a quarter of the Earth is left untouched, despite our understanding that whole and functioning ecosystems are the principal life force of our planet.” She added, “Today I’m proud of Chile for recognizing how national parks can benefit both nature and communities in so many ways, from providing essential ecosystem services to helping build regenerative economies.”