www.independent.co.uk 18th November 2011
Douglas Tompkins, the environmentalist and founder of North Face outdoor clothing, has been trying to establish a vast nature reserve in the far North of Argentina for some time now but has faced significant opposition along every step of the way. Finally though it looks like his dreams of creating a reserve to protect the Iberá marsh, the second largest wetland habitat in the world, are becoming realised. Despite being dubbed a ‘Gringo Imperialist’ by the Land Minister Luis Delía (who even posed with a pair of wire cutters next to the fence of Mr Tompkins estate), it seems the entrepreneur has now found some support from the Argentine president Cristina Kirchner leading to an announcement that Mr Tompkins will donate 370,000 acres of his land (valued at £120 million) to the creation of a new reserve. Opposition is still strong in the form of Ricardo Colombi, the governor of the Corrientes region that includes the Iberá marsh, who claims the reserve will force local farmers from their jobs. Mr Tompkins is also encouraging Mr Colombi’s administration to hand over a further 1.36 million acres it owns to the national government. Such a move would pressure on the 1,800 farmers who own the remaining 1.2 million acres of the Iberá to scale down their farming practices. Despite Iberá being already designated a provincial nature reserve, almost half of the 3.2 million acres is in private ownership and divided into farms.