CLT was established in 1992 by Douglas Tompkins, the founder of clothing brands ESPRIT and The North Face who died of hypothermia in December 2015 after suffering a kayak accident in the south of Chile. Tompkins turned his back on business in the mid-1990s to devote himself 100% to conservation
CLT is the world’s largest private land conservation initiative for the purpose of biodiversity conservation. With the help of experts and local organizations, the scheme whereby it buys up private land and turns it over to the governments of Chile and Argentina for conservation in perpetuity has over the years extended protection to upwards of one million hectares of Atlantic forest, wetlands, grassland, temperate rainforest, steppes and endemic Patagonian forest. These varied systems correspond to the national parks of Monte León, Patagonia-Argentina and El Impenetrable in Argentina, and Corcovado and Yendagaia in Chile, the provincial parks El Piñalito in Argentina and El Cañí in Chile, and the major enlargement of Argentina’s Perito Moreno National Park.
CLT devotes resources to the restoration of these natural spaces, and facilitating their sustainable use by the local population. Experts from the organization also lead the reintroduction to the parks of regionally threatened or extinct species, some as emblematic as the puma, the Andean condor or the giant anteater.
The jury highlighted the couple’s “vision and leadership” in this area, deploying a strategy that combines “private purchases of land, habitat restoration, the recovery of threatened species and the creation of alternative economic opportunities in partnership with local communities.” Through the Tompkins, they added, the award also recognizes “the value of promoting altruistic participation as a means to conserve nature.”