My personal dream for a protected space nature
As children, we often spent hours wandering around the vast abandoned grounds in Brandenburg, the former occupation zones. Nature had quickly reclaimed these areas and it was a paradise with all kinds of wild animals, young trees and berry bushes. If we were not careful, pheasants jumped up in the air in front of us, frightened, or deer jumped right next to us on the thicket. Old ruins of buildings served as a shelter to save us from a horde of wild boars. I was able to watch such beautiful birds there, which until now I don’t know what their names are. In my heart it was a perfect oasis, but unfortunately this childhood idyll no longer exists. It has become a federal garden show, which makes me very very sad, because for me it was the opposite of wild nature. Dreams often arise from a variety of events and different inspirations. And this early childhood memory was certainly an important one of them. Another was the vision of Douglas Tompkins.
A few years ago I came across a video about Douglas Tompkins, founder of The Northface, and the Laguna Blanca in Argentina. I read more about this project and the beautiful way he was farming there, and I was hooked. Little by little, I came across his other projects and felt that there was a longing there for me as well.
In the late 80s, he developed an ecological awareness and became increasingly critical with the textile industry that was prevalent at the time. Together with his wife Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, former CEO of the Patagonia brand, they bought more than 2 million acres (810,000ha) of wilderness in Argentina and Chile and put nature there under protection. In doing so, they had a huge impact on saving Patagonia’s endangered nature! In the meantime, more than six national parks can be traced back to the Tompkins Conservation. 15 parks in total are currently in planning. The protected land area is more than 14 million acres, plus 30 million acres of protected marine space.
This journey by Douglas and Kristine Tompkins was a huge inspiration to me! I wondered how I would also be able to hit the pause button on an area in my neighborhood. But I had one obstacle: Douglas and Kris Tompkins had more than enough money to get started, and I did not.
In spring 2020, I attended a seminar on sustainable forestry with Peter Wohlleben, forester, author and environmentalist. Among many other exciting topics, we also talked about alternative uses of forests. Forestry does not mean the same as timber management. The desire to manage one’s own forest differently, i.e. financially profitable but without harvesting even one piece of wood, was clear from the beginning. Initially, the plan was that the forest would support itself through the sale of “forest products”. But since I lacked the funds to buy a piece of forest, I came up with the idea of reversing the whole process. Not the forest exists first, but the financing of it is based on the income from “forest products”.
Through my enjoyment of weaving and my work as a freelance illustrator, I already had the skills necessary to make money from my art. I thought, maybe I will succeed in earning a sum of money from the sale of (art)prints, carpets and other wonderful products, which will enable me to first establish a nature reserve. Well, and from this wish and the idea of financing this project Collaboration with Earth was born and I am very happy if you become part of this journey!
The nature reserve will be a place where nature can develop freely without human interference. A space of protected nature, where it can live in its natural rhythms and processes. It is not about the preservation of certain (cultural) landscapes, but about the possibility of change towards a natural habitat as it was once meant to be. I have a vision that it serves nature more if we take our cue from what it does naturally to help itself. It gives suggestions from which we may be guided to work toward the common goal – a healthy forest! – to work.
If you’d like to learn more about Tompkins Conservation, here’s a short video about it.
If the question is survival, survival of life’s diversity and human dignity and healthy human communities, then the answer must include rewilding the Earth. As much and as quickly as possible.
Kristine McDivitt Tompkins
You can find a highly recommended Ted Talk by Kristine McDivitt Tompkins from 2020 here.