Chile Adds 10 Million Acres of Parkland in Historic First

American philanthropists and the Chilean government pledged to protect the land nearly a year ago. Now, it’s official.

Chilean president Michelle Bachelet officially declared a major expansion of Chile’s parklands, creating two new national parks and protecting vast swaths of the country’s rainforests, grasslands, and other wild terrains.

“With these beautiful lands, their forests, their rich ecosystems, we…expand the network of parks to more than 10 million acres,” Bachelet said in a statement. “Thus, national parks in Chile will increase by 38.5% to account for 81.1% of Chile’s protected areas.”

The announcement represents a major achievement for public-private conservation. In what’s being billed the world’s largest donation of privately held land, American philanthropist Kristine Tompkins—the co-founder of Tompkins Conservation, along with her late husband Doug Tompkins—has handed over slightly more than a million acres of land to Chile.

The Chilean government, for its part, has contributed nearly nine million acres of federally owned land. In all, the newly designated parkland is roughly the size of Switzerland.

The new and augmented parks, though not contiguous, will cover an area slightly larger than Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic National Park. It will also feature some of Chile’s most stunning scenery, including perennially snow-capped peaks, red-rock canyons, glaciated fjords, whitewater rivers, and coastal volcanoes.

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