Two American philanthropists have donated 1 million acres of private parkland to the people of Chile, reports the Smithsonian.
The gift of Parque Pumalín and Patagonia represents the largest donation of land by a private entity to a country.
The move has inspired the Chilean government to designate a further 10 million acres as national parks.
The announcement puts the country on a par with Costa Rica in terms of the percentage of protected land. This makes it one of the most ecologically friendly in Central and South America.
Kris McDivitt Tompkins, former CEO of the clothing company Patagonia and her husband, Doug Tompkins, co-founder of the North Face and Esprit clothing lines, began acquiring vast tracts of land in the country in the 1990s.
Their intention was always to improve it, preserve it and return it to the citizens of Chile.
Doug Tompkins died in 2015 so was unable to see his ambition come to fruition.
Initially, Chile was suspicious of the couple’s intentions, accusing them of trying to create a Jewish state or a nuclear dump.
Clearly, times have changed. President Michelle Bachelet was present in person at the handover on the border of Pumalin Park.
Some sources estimate that the new parks will attract $270 million into the area and create 43,000 jobs.
Image of Parque Pumalín, Wikipedia Commons