A box that safeguards the soul of national parks

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Photo: Amigos de los Parques de ChilePhoto: Amigos de los Parques de Chile
 
 
By Eugenio Rengifo
 
Recently, we lived a historic moment at Pumalin Douglas Tompkins Park, one that is laden with meaning for us as Chileans and for the entire planet. The parks “Patagonia” and “Pumalin Douglas Tompkins” were finally handed over to government of Chile and its citizens. During the ceremony celebrating the final transfer of the parks, their donor, Kris Tompkins, wanted to give Amigos de los Parques (Friends of the Parks) a symbolic and concrete mission, materialized in a box with each of the elements of the rainforest found at Pumalin.
 
With her own hands, she gathered some water, soil, stones, blades of grass and moss, and pieces of wood that for thousands of years have been at the lands there, and that she along with her team for more than two decades conceived, cared for and protected so much until ultimately turning them into a national park. And with the act of giving this box, it embodied the convergence in a single gesture alll of the components woven together in the community of life of Pumalin. With this box that safeguards the soul of Pumalin National Park Douglas Tompkins, Amigos de los Parques (Friends of the Parks) formally received the task of caring and securing the legacy of the Route of Parks of Patagonia that is now completely established with this official transfer to the state.
 
This box we will hold on behalf of all Chileans, as Kris said: "I am very happy, and for today's historic moment, I'll do something symbolic. I will give this box to Amigos de los Parques. You, as representatives of all Chileans, are the guardians of the future, you must carry this box for the rest of your life. The box contains every plant that you can find in this forest. This is my symbolic mandate, a box to guarantee the public value of national parks. Now, you, as Chileans, go enjoy these parks, visit them, love them and protect them. The parks are your patrimony. Today, we begin a new history for a generation that takes care of their national parks. To each and every Chilean, I say: welcome to your park! Be friends of the parks! Be the guardians of the future!"
 
 
With her hands, Kris Tompkins gathered some water, soil, stones, blades of grass and moss, and pieces of wood that for thousands of years have been in Pumalin Douglas Tompkins National Park. Photo: Amigos de los ParquesWith her hands, Kris Tompkins gathered some water, soil, stones, blades of grass and moss, and pieces of wood that for thousands of years have been in Pumalin Douglas Tompkins National Park. Photo: Amigos de los Parques
 
 
A box with the soul of national parks. Photo: Amigos de los ParquesA box with the soul of national parks. Photo: Amigos de los Parques
 
 
Now that they are ours, we can be proud to have immense valleys where we can find the Patagonian steppe in all its splendor, mountain ranges, lenga and nirre forests that are stained red in autumn, and dozens of lagoons and spectacular lakes like the Cochrane and Jeinimeni. All of these places contain breathtaking beauty and active wildlife, and convey the history of one of the most important ecosystem restoration projects in the country.
 
These impressive places are – thanks to the donation of Douglas Tompkins Pumalin and Patagonia parks by Tompkins Conservation to the people of Chile – a protected space that belongs to all of us. They are our parks now. These magical places invite us to reconnect with nature, which we are all part of, and to confirm that we are but one more piece in a community of life that we have artificially separated ourselves from in the daily routines of human society.
 
Let's reinvent nature, not as something outside of us, but as something that is in every breath of humanity. Take care of these parks, and in this way become guardians of the future.
 
The writer, Eugenio Rengifo, is executive director of Amigos de los Parques de la Patagonia
 
 
 
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