I am writing to announce the donation of 375,000 acres to the Argentine government to create the new Iberá National Park in Argentina, and to ask you to join with me to celebrate Kris Tompkins and her team’s remarkable achievement. Their donation is contiguous to the 1,375,000-acre Iberá Provincial Park, which together now create the largest parklands in the country.
Sometimes called “the Argentine Pantanal,” Iberá is one of the planet’s great freshwater wetlands complexes, covering more than 3.2 million acres of grasslands and marsh in Corrientes Province of northeastern Argentina. The landscape supports fabulous wildlife including nearly 400 species of birds.
Kris McDivitt Tompkins, Patagonia’s first CEO, and her late husband, Doug, worked on creating this parkland from their first visit there in 1997. They bought contiguous land to the wetlands, ranches and supported local efforts to create a national park. The profound ancient knowledge about the wetlands estuary and their fauna began to be appreciated again. “Mariscadores”—the local name for hunters—went on to become the first park rangers of Iberá Wetlands. Their work has been key to the recovery of wildlife within the wetlands. At a time when mass extinctions are taking place all over the world, the Iberá reserve has become a refuge for species that are threatened including marsh deer, neotropical otters and many species of birds. Through their foundation, The Conservation Land Trust, the Tompkins and their team have reintroduced giant anteaters, white-collared peccaries, pampas deer, maned wolves and tapirs to the wetlands and are currently actively working on the reintroduction of jaguars, red-shouldered macaws, and other species. Their jaguar breeding center is the first of its kind in the world and is by far their most ambitious reintroduction program to date.
Patagonia has supported the Tompkins’s work since 1991 through private donations from Yvon and Malinda Chouinard, catalog essays about the work of Conservacion Patagonica, and Mile for Mile, a New Localism film. We are currently creating all printed materials for the Patagonia Park in Aysen, Chile, a project Patagonia company has been a critical partner in since the beginning when Yvon, Malinda, Doug and Kris first went to visit the area to see with their own eyes that what became Patagonia Park was a project worth doing—and it was.
After Doug’s death last December, Kris kept right on going. Just last week, Kris met with Argentine President Mauricio Macri. He officially accepted Iberá parklands under federal jurisdiction. Once the donation is complete, the joint Iberá National Park and Iberá Provincial Park will be the largest park in Argentina. In conjunction, Tompkins Conservation has been named the recipient of BBVA Foundation’s 2016 Biodiversity Conservation Award, the highest conservation award that exists worldwide in the field of biodiversity conservation. I join with Yvon and Malinda to celebrate Kris’s achievement, and this remarkable park.
Want to see it for yourself? Learn more about visiting Iberá.