While running the length of South America, we spoke to two amazing people, Kris and the late Doug Tompkins. Over the last twenty years they had conserved over two million acres of wilderness (more than any other private individuals in the world) in Chile and Argentina. Their motive, they said, was simply “To pay our rent for living on this planet.’
We ran through two of their parks, which they have since bequeathed to the Chilean government as fully functioning, restored and re-wilded national parks; Parque Pumalin and Parque Patagonia.
The parks are breath-taking natural wildlands. Parque Pumalin is ancient woodland saved from deforestation and hydro-electric dams. While Parque Pumalin is a vast grassland, saved from desertification.
Here I describe in my book, ‘Running South America with my Husband and other animals’, the perils of sheep and how their reduction or removal has allowed this ecosystem to recuperate,
“But these non-native grazers, introduced by European settlers, have stripped away the tapestry of wildflowers and grasses that once emblazoned the steppes, leaving clumps of unpalatable grasses in a dust-bowl of fragile, trampled, soil. The earth is unable to hold water or nutrients, and takes to the air. Without soil and water, even those postcard sheep are leaving Patagonia, driven out by their own voracious, unsustainable appetite.”
David and I will never forget meeting this truly inspirational, yet humble couple. Listen here to Kris’ eloquent and moving TedTalk calling each and every one of us to act and work together to rewild our planet for its sake and our own.
Fore more on Rewilding: