After 33 Years, Argentina Declares Historic Win for People and Planet

Photo from Joel Reyero @naturalflash

From Patagonia:

TIERRA DEL FUEGO, ARGENTINA (Dec. 6, 2022) – At the Southernmost tip of Argentina, the community of Tierra del Fuego has protected the entirety of Peninsula Mitre – over 1.2 million acres overall are being protected – including 700,000 acres of land and 500,000 acres of ocean – forever. Peninsula Mitre is a massive carbon sink, home to a myriad of threatened species and includes some of the region’s most significant natural and cultural heritage sites. Protecting this area permanently is a historic victory for the planet and local communities. 

In a special legislative session, the local legislature in Tierra del Fuego unanimously approved to designate the Mitre Peninsula, Argentina’s largest carbon reservoir, as a provincial protected natural area. This final vote to protect this area is the result of local community support and 33 years of collaboration from all sectors of society including government leaders and contributions from Patagonia, Tompkins Conservation, Rewilding Argentina, scientists and academia.

“There is only 10% of the planet left to protect, while we are now facing challenges like the loss of blodiversity, climate change, and increasing pollution. That’s why this legislation is the best way to protect the ecosystem and biodiversity of the Mitre Peninsula, which is one of the biggest natural lungs in both the country and the world,” said Nahuel Stauch, a local activist.

Yvon Chouinard, founder of outdoor apparel brand Patagonia and a stalwart advocate for the region, recounted his first experience there, “In 1977, my friend Paul Bruun and I backpacked along the coast of Peninsula Mitre looking for streams to fish and adventure. We found old shipwrecks, kelp forests, peat bogs, and sea trout in one of the wildest places left on the planet. I’m proud to have been a small part of creating this park at the end of the world.”

Patagonia and its founder, Yvon Chouinard, contributed $605,000 USD through its 1% for the Planet grassroots giving program to protect this rich carbon and biodiversity ecosystem. The Holdfast Collective, a new nonprofit supported by Patagonia, is also committing $200,000 USD. The company also helped to convene and support local activists who share an interest in seeing this area protected.

Peninsula Mitre is located at the eastern end of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Due to its huge expanse of peat, the peninsula is the largest area of carbon capture in the country and the presence of well-preserved underwater forests increases the importance and biodiversity of this amazing ecosystem. Various species inhabit, migrate to, and find food in its terrestrial and marine areas, including: the endangered southern river otter, the humpback whale, the Fuegian steamer duck. Also, the area is home to some of the region’s most significant natural and cultural heritage, such as traces of the Haush (a hunter-gatherer people), the remains of shipwrecks, and a plethora of flora and fauna.

It will require all sectors of society working together to protect our planet, and this historic accomplishment in Argentina represents a model to protect intact ecosystems and the biodiversity within them that can be scaled globally.  “This is exactly what the protection of key habitats should look like, taking into account not only land but also the coastal waters. This park is a new highwater mark for global conservation and the fight against climate change.” said Kristine Tompkins, President of Tompkins Conservation. 

About Patagonia

We’re in business to save our home planet. Founded by Yvon Chouinard in 1973, Patagonia Works (“Patagonia”) is a certified B Corporation based in Ventura, California. A founding member of 1% for the Planet, the company is recognized internationally for its product quality and environmental activism. Its unique ownership structure reflects that Earth is its only shareholder: Profits not reinvested back into the business are paid as dividends to protect the planet.

About Tompkins Conservation 

A driving force to curb the worldwide climate emergency and the biodiversity crisis, Tompkins Conservation has spent three decades working to rewild a healthy planet with big, wild, and connected landscapes where human communities, animals and plants can thrive. Collaborating with public and private partners, the organization has driven the creation and expansion of 15 national parks. In Argentina, Tompkins Conservation provides support to its offspring organization, Rewilding Argentina.