From Chile to Maine: Conservation Across Continents
Journalist Felipe Edwards’ favorite place is the temperate rainforests of southern Chile, where he rode horses every summer as a child. “There are these towering, native broadleaf evergreens that are 200 feet high,” he says. “It’s like going through a natural gothic cathedral.”
When he was 10, his family moved from their Santiago home for political reasons and settled in Greenwich, Connecticut. Little did young Felipe know that one day he would play a key role in protecting the ancient forests they left behind.
“The Valdivian Coastal Reserve, which harbors those forests, is a very big part of why I joined The Nature Conservancy in 2010,” he says. “It’s the kind of place that sticks with you, a memory planted deep, one that becomes a part of you.”
The nearly 150,000-acre reserve—which stretches along Chile’s southern coast and is home to a trove of species, such as the world’s smallest deer, the pudu; the very large Magellanic woodpecker; and 2,500-year-old alerce trees—was acquired by TNC in 2003 to protect it from unsustainable forestry and land conversion. Many generous donors contributed to the initial purchase, and a grant opportunity would fund the remainder and support long-term management—but with 200 other organizations in the running, competition was steep.
In stepped TNC’s newly formed Chile board of trustees, of which Felipe was a founding member. The trustees worked closely with staff to promote TNC’s grant proposal and were integral in clinching a $20 million gift. In recognition of his contribution, Felipe was given TNC’s prestigious volunteer leader award for his extraordinary commitment to conservation. “It’s one of my proudest achievements,” he says.
Felipe’s dedication extends beyond Chile. He is on TNC’s Maine board of trustees and supports global work as a member of TNC’s Last Great Places Society. “I find purpose, fulfillment and fun in discovering amazing places all around the world and know that I’m part of an organization that has made their protection possible.”
As a father and a Legacy Club member, Felipe also looks to the future. “I put TNC in my will because I want my kids to be proud of me,” he says. “And I want me to be proud of me for having done my part.”