Less than a week ago Doug Tompkins (72) died in a kayaking accident.
He was an American conservationist, outdoorsman, philanthropist, filmmaker, agriculturalist, and businessman.
He founded the clothing and outdoor equipment companies North Face, Inc. and later Esprit.
After retiring, Tompkins moved to south Chile, where he spent much time climbing, kayaking, and skiing, to focus on land conservation and environmental activism.
He started the Foundation for Deep Ecology in 1990, which supports environmental activism, and The Conservation Land Trust in 1992, which works to protect wildlands, primarily in Chile and Argentina.
Tompkins and his wife Kristine focused on park creation, wildlife recovery, ecological agriculture, and activism, with the goal of saving biodiversity.
Doug and Kris Tompkins have been the recipients of numerous awards for theie conservation work:
- N’aitun Award from Artistas Pro Ecología—Doug, 2006
- Good Steward Award from the International Conservation Caucus Foundation—Kris & Doug, 2007
- World Rainforest Award from Rainforest Action Network—Kris & Doug, 2008
- Honorary Membership to the American Society of Landscape Architects—Doug, 2007
- David Brower Award from the American Alpine Club—Doug, 2008
- Environmental Award from the Bruno H. Schubert Foundation—Kris & Doug, 2008
- Environmental Leader of the Year from Latin Trade—Doug, 2009
- Honorary Degree from the College of Idaho—Kris, 2009
- International Visionary Award from Scenic Hudson—Kris & Doug, 2010
- International BAUM Special Award from B.A.U.M (German Association for Environmental Management)—Kris & Doug, 2010
- New Species Award from the African Rainforest Conservancy—Kris & Doug, 2012
Projects in Chile and Argentina:
1. Pumalin Park was declared as a Nature Santuary in 2005 by then Chile’s President Ricardo Lagos. The Park has 800,000-acre (320,000 ha) area of Valdivian temperate rain forest, high peaks, lakes, and rivers. Pumalin has a public-access infrastructure, including trails, campgrounds, visitor centers, and a restaurant. Tompkins goal was to inspire a deeper environmental ethic among the thousands of visitors of the Park.
2. Corcovado National Park
In 1994, Tompkin’s Conservation Land Trust (CLT), along with U.S. philanthropist Peter Buckley, acquired 208,000 acres (84,000 ha) of native forest. CLT offered to donate this parcel back to the Chilean state, provided that the whole area became a national park. In 2005, then President Ricardo Lagos accepted this proposal, and the 726,000-acre (294,000 ha) became the Corcovado National Park.
3. Iberá Project (Argentina)
Started by Tompkins, working with George Soros, Harvard University, and the Conservation Land Trust (Tompkins enterprise). The goal is to expand land ownership and strengthen protection for the Iberá Wetlands natural preserve, in Corrientes Province, Argentina. Started in 1983, the Iberá Natural Reserve has 553,000 hectares of protected floodplains. It is a safe habitat for a range of native species.
After Doug’s death Kris said that she will continue the work that they initiated.