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 Rewilding 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.