About Us

The Route of Parks of Patagonia is a vision of Tompkins Conservation Chile, a nonprofit dedicated for nearly three decades to conserving the beauty and biodiversity of Chilean Patagonia. Through the creation of national parks, rewilding, ecological restoration, community outreach, activism and public education, we work to instill a culture of conservation which can help the world to regain its equilibrium, integrity and vitality.

Vision

To be recognized as the most important conservation route in the world, positioning the image of Chile as a destination for nature based tourism and inspiring communities to reconnect with their natural heritage as a fundamental part of their identity motivating them to work in harmony with biodiversity.

Mission

To protect and support the natural and cultural heritage of Chilean Patagonia and its 17 national parks, promoting local economic vitality through tourism as a consequence of conservation, and instilling the importance of the region as a massive greenspace for the planet in the face of the climate and biodiversity crises.

Goals

To position the region as the most beautiful scenic route in the world, a crucial area to protect for the resilience of the planet, to strengthen the image of Chile in the world as a leader in conservation, to generate an economy functioning in harmony with biodiversity, and to promote a conservation culture that promotes healthy, vibrant and beautiful environments for all communities of life.

How was the Route of Parks created?

The creation of two new national parks, Corcovado in 2005, and Yendegaia in 2013, paved the way for the creation of the Route of Parks of Patagonia. In September 2014, the Yendegaia Foundation (now Tompkins Conservation Chile) presented the concept of the Route of Parks to the Chilean government in response to fears that conservation would remove land from production and detract from economic development. We see conservation as an investment, not an expense. We believe that conservation is not only an urgent action to counteract the crises of extinction of species and climate change, but it’s also an important alternative for economic development for communities surrounding the national parks.

In October 2015, Douglas Tompkins publicly launched his vision behind The Route of Parks at the ATTA summit in Chile’s Lakes District, proposing a comprehensive development strategy for Chilean Patagonia based on conservation. The opportunity was also an invitation to see national parks as engines of local economies, generating jobs and investments related to tourism, businesses, services, connectivity and transport while favoring the roots and identity of the surrounding communities.

In March 2017, Tompkins Conservation Chile agreed to make the largest donation of land from a private entity to a country worldwide. The Chilean government and Tompkins Conservation Chile signed an unprecedented public-private agreement protocol that gave definitive shape to this vision. Under the agreement, the government incorporated public lands and reclassified national reserves to create five new National Parks (Pumalín Douglas Tompkins, Melimoyu, Cerro Castillo, Patagonia and Kawésqar) and expand another three (Hornopirén, Corcovado and Isla Magdalena).

Finally, in January 2018, decrees were signed to finalize the donation of almost a million acres from Tompkins Conservation Chile, incorporating 2,4 million acres of public lands, and reclassifying almost 6,5 million acres of reserves as national parks, while adding over 10 million acres of protected areas. The new parks created in this collaborative public-private effort joined existing ones to create the concept of The Route of Patagonia: 28 million acres protected in 17 National Parks, equivalent to almost 3 times the size of Switzerland, and more than double the size of Costa Rica.

Benefits of the Route of Parks

The Route of Parks is a natural solution to confront the greatest loss of biodiversity in history. There are four pillars to this philosophy:

Protecting Nature

According to the scientific community, we need to maintain half of the planet in a natural state to avoid the extinction of a million species. The Route of the Parks protects 28 million acres, preventing the loss and degradation of these ecosystems, preserving complex ecological processes and natural dynamics to ensure ecosystem services for future generations

Local Economic Development

The Waldron report projects that the benefits of conserving at least 30% of the land and ocean could exceed the costs by a factor of at least 5 to 1. This represents a significant boost to small scale economies. In 2019, almost half a million people visited the national parks in the Route of Parks, while visits to protected areas in Chile have increased by more than 70% during the last decade.

Connecting Far-Flung Regions

The Route of Parks covers one-third of Chile, uniting three regions (Los Lagos, Aysén and Magallanes) and connecting the southern highway with the Patagonian Channels and the End of the World route. This holistic vision for Chilean Patagonia emphasizes the importance of conserving and restoring complete and connected ecosystems, from the sea to mountain ranges.

Developing Chile’s International Image

According to the Undersecretary of Tourism, 78% of international tourists who visit Chile are largely attracted by the country’s natural beauty. We want to continue strengthening the image of Chile as a top global nature destination and a leader in protecting valuable natural heritage, with a visionary commitment to conservation and building planetary resilience in the face of today’s climate crisis, loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems.

Milestones of the route

2020

Tompkins Conservation Chile and Sernatur Los Lagos, Aysén and Magallanes sign an agreement to create a working group for the Route of the Parks to develop an action plan that promotes the benefit of tourism as a consequence of conservation to communities.

To date, the Route has alliances with more than 20 tour operators and has been featured in more than 350 international media outlets.

The Mobile Ruta undertakes a new journey through the region to promote conservation, and share opportunities and challenges. The tour begins on January 15 in Correntoso, and ends on March 3 in Villa O’Higgins. The Smithsonian documentary The Wild Andes premieres in 17 locations, reaching an audience of over 500. Materials are delivered to libraries, tourist offices and national parks in 25 other communities.

In February, the Route of Parks arrived in the Basque Country to participate in the Aktibatu 2020 meeting, ideas and solutions for tourism and sustainability.

2019

In November, the Route was nominated for the «Best Wider World Tourism Project» by The British Guild of Travel Writers in England.

The Route of the Parks and Friends of the Parks initiate a community empowerment pilot plan in the Alerce Andino and Pali Aike National Parks.

In October, the Route received recognition from the Chilean Association of Tourism Companies (ACHET), is nominated for the Fedetur Tourism Innovation Award, and participates in Adventure Travel Mexico (ATMEX).

In September the Route of Parks in Europe was officially launched.

In March, the Route participated in the ITB fair in Berlin in alliance with Sernatur Los Lagos, Aysén and Magallanes. The project is also launched at the Chilean Embassy in Germany.

2018

On September 26, the Patagonia Park Route was officially launched in a joint activity with Marca Chile. On this occasion, the Route of Parks website is announced, registering more than 5,000 visits in one day, with a contest offering a tour of the Route of the Parks as a prize.

On January 29, President Michelle Bachelet and Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, President and co-founder of Tompkins Conservation, signed decrees to create a network of five new national parks for Chile, in addition to expanding another 3, incorporating more than 4 million hectares to the system of protected areas in Chile. This agreement was promoted by the donation of more than 400 thousand hectares by Tompkins Conservation.

The «Mobile Ruta» campaign begins its awareness-raising journey, visiting in 6 months more than 50 towns, 25 mayors, as well as holding 45 exhibitions in 30 communities, visiting more than 700 people. Meetings are held with 28 chambers, guilds and associations of tourism, with 80 tour operators, in addition to 400 meetings with tourism companies, local businesses, schools, and transport services. 28 tourist information offices are trained and meetings are held with Conaf administrators.

2017

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Kristine McDivitt Tompkins sign a protocol agreement to significantly expand Chile’s National Parks system through an unprecedented public-private partnership.

2016

First inauguration of the Mobile Route from Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins, to undertake community surveys and campaign to promote the Route of Parks.

2015

Douglas Tompkins, co-founder of Tompkins Conservation, launches the vision of the Route of Parks at ATTA (Adventure Travel World Summit), held in the Lakes District, and simultaneously launches the book Tourism and Conservation.

2014

The then Yendegaia Foundation, today Tompkins Conservation Chile, presents for the first time to the Chilean government the proposal of the Route of the Parks of Patagonia.

2013

Yendegaia National Park is created, after the donation of more than 38 thousand hectares from the Yendegaia Foundation (today Tompkins Conservation Chile), which added to the fiscal lands incorporated by the government gave life to this new protected area of more than 150 thousand hectares.

2005

Conservation Land Trust and Peter Buckley donate lands surrounding the Corcovado volcano for the creation of the new Corcovado National Park, which today protects more than 290 thousand hectares.

The Route of Parks

in numbers

91%

The route features more than 90% of land protected under the category of National Parks in Chile.

1,700

Spans more than 1700 miles, or 1/3 of Chilean national territory.

17

Protects 28 million acres of land in 17 National Parks.

3

Includes three regions

60

Features more than 60 local communities.

1,097

mi

584

mi

140

Species of birds

46

Features 46 species of marine and land mammals.

24

Protects 24 different ecosystems

7

Different types of native forests.

Why create National Parks?

National Parks are the world’s oldest and most enduring conservation strategy. A “national park” has the highest category of protection for a geographic area and the strongest guarantee that an ecosystem will be cared for and preserved not only for today, but for generations to come. National parks play many different roles, including providing havens for biodiversity, helping to combat climate change, bolstering local economies, protecting natural and cultural heritage, and offering ideal spaces for recreation and scientific research.

National Parks are essential for maintaining the natural cycles and systems that nurture our planet’s diversity of life. They’re also democratic institutions with deep, transformative power. These spaces––open to everyone, equally––provide visitors with a beautiful, wild environment that encourages a deeper connection between nature and society. National parks show us how to foster rich, unfettered ecosystems, supported by a culture that deeply values biodiversity and natural life. They also provide a model for cultivating vibrant communities filled with people who understand the sense of belonging and local identity that only a profound connection with nature can provide.

National parks, in all their beauty, are a powerful reminder of the abundance that can be found in caring for the well-being of our planet––and the well-being the natural world offers to us in return.

Strategic allies

Copyright 2018 Ruta de los Parques de la Patagonia

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