Conservation and Activism
In their stately building we meet director Carolina Morgado. Passionately, she explains the organization’s purpose. “Worldwide we see that crises resulting from human activity are getting bigger, both ecologically and socially. Consider the warming of the biosphere, the economic unrest and the destruction of indigenous cultures. But as far as we are concerned, the mother of all crises is global extinction. Species are disappearing at lightning speed due to overfishing, industrial agriculture, and because habitats are destroyed and broken into pieces. Little attention is paid to that, even though life on earth depends on biodiversity.”
We nod in agreement and ask what they are trying to do about it. Carolina continues: “Tackling the root causes of the problems requires cultural, social, economic, and political changes. We believe we can contribute by focusing on the value of wilderness. Our aim is to create protected parks, restore and rewild nature, and stimulate ecological agriculture and activism.”
“Ah, so it’s more than buying land,” Ivar notes. “Yes, buying is the easiest step”, Carolina laughs. “We then remove fences and reintroduce animals that used to live there. And when land is under threat because of damaging development, such as logging or river damming, we educate and support local activists and communities to defend their land.”
As the status as a national park offers the best protection in the long term, the Tompkins Conservation enters into cooperation with the governments of Argentina and Chile. “We convince them to involve pieces of land that are adjacent to our land, so that considerably larger national parks can be created” Carolina explains. It’s a fruitful form of public-private partnership: It has led to a vast network of national parks in Argentina and southern Chile. Together with other partners and governments, Tompkins Conservation have helped to protect some 5.7 million hectares of natural areas. They have successfully reintroduced vulnerable species to some of these areas. These include the elusive huemul deer and iconic puma. “Apex predators, such as the puma, are key to maintaining balanced ecosystems” Carolina explains. “They keep the number of their prey in check, remove slow, weak and dying animals, and keep them moving around, which is good for plant life.