The Chilean government—with the help of Tompkins Conservation—has set aside 11 million acres of land for national parks.

The Tompkins Foundation, founded by Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, the previous CEO of Patagonia and her late husband Doug Tompkins, co-founder of The North Face and Esprit, donated one million acres to the Chilean government, which is the largest land donation to a country ever.

The Chilean government and people didn’t always welcome the Tompkins efforts, with speculation that they were trying to split the country in two and that they were CIA spies trying to penetrate the Chilean government. However, after decades of work by the Tompkins Foundation, the Chilean people recognized their genuine passion and care for the Patagonian wilderness.

A network of 17 national parks running North-South will be formed along Patagonia. These parks feature extremely diverse ecosystems such as deserts, volcanoes, rainforest, beaches, and mountains. The 17,187 square miles of parks will be three times the size of Yosemite and Yellowstone combined.

The new national parks are expected to expand Chile’s booming ecotourism industry and provide over 40,000 jobs to locals. This is certainly a win for conservationists everywhere and provides hope that we can save some of our world’s wild places.