Rewilding the Land, Restoring Ourselves
We’ve all come to understand that we’re damaging our planet - but for a few visionaries this isn’t news, it’s become a way of life.
By Ahmed Gouda, Editor
A Quarter of a Century
For a quarter of a century, with her late husband Douglas Tompkins, Kristine has worked to conserve and rewild vast areas of our world. Fighting against nature destruction, neglect and exploitation, together they purchased more than 2 million acres of land in Chile and Argentina to restore to wilderness.
Kristine Tompkins is an American conservationist, former CEO of Patagonia Inc., and President and Co-founder of Tompkins Conservation. Kristine is also a UN Environment Patron, recognised for her commitment to protected areas of the planet.
Through Tompkins Conservation, Kristine has been instrumental in the creation of 13 national parks in Chile and Argentina and conserving 14.5 million acres of wilderness.
The creation of parks is the starting point for the more important restoration and rewilding of their ecosystems to become whole and functional again. This includes bringing back missing species like the jaguar in Argentina or the extremely endangered huemul in Chile, which have key ecological functions.
Image credit: Tompkins Conservation
Kristine Tompkins – Master Rewilder
So what does that mean in reality? In the wetlands of Iberá in Argentina, this requires the reintroduction of jaguars and giant river otters to the land, together with a level of commitment from local people that is almost unprecedented. This process makes stakeholder engagement look like a party game! So it’s not enough to buy land, reintroduce species, and reverse damage caused by pollution and deforestation. Rewilding demands a high degree of diplomacy, tact and understanding. It also demands imaginative approaches to human behaviour, and ongoing support for marginalised or often hostile communities. Above all, rewilding calls for dedication – for the long-term dedication of time, money and energy to a massive and unpredictable process that can end in failure – but if we don’t learn to do it successfully, it may be the end of us all!
Join us Where the Wild Things are
Kristine Tompkins has lessons to teach us. In a 2020 TED Talk entitled, “Let’s make the world wild again” she talks about how each human is impacted by every other human, and how each of our actions affects the health of the planet. None of us is on a solo journey, no matter how insulated we feel in our urban sprawl and our techno-bubble, we live or die, based in part on what those jaguars and giant otters are getting up to in their marshes.
Making the World Wild Again
While it can be hard for us to grasp, given our often limited experience of genuine wilderness and our even more limited opportunities to engage with it on its own terms, it is vital that humanity learns this lesson.
“You can’t protect a place unless you understand it. You can’t love it until you know it.”Kristine TompkinsPresident and Co-founder of Tompkins Conservation, UN Environment Patron of Protected Areas
Kristine Tompkins is giving us all a chance to learn – partnering with Satopia and Journeys with Purpose, she’s speaking live at a free online event on 21 January 2021 exploring why and how we all need to work together and sharing stories from Tompkins Conservation – one of the greatest successes in nature conservation.