aerieal view of waves, sand and lush forest
An aerial view of Colun Beach in the Valdivian Coastal Reserve, Los Rios, Chile. © Nick Hall

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Felipe Edwards

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.”

Felipe Edwards stands in a lush forest
Felipe Edwards Legacy Club member, Last Great Places Society Member and Trustee © Felipe Edwards/TNC

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.”

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.”

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