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Doug Tompkins, the businessman turned conservationist who died in a kayaking accident in southern Chile yesterday, is credited, along with his wife Kris, of preserving more land than any other private citizen – more than two million acres, all in the deliriously wild region of South America known as Patagonia.

Tompkins was an adherent of the deep ecology movement, which argues that humans need to return to a far more humble relationship with nature, and he was tireless and uncompromising in his efforts to preserve the untamed and pristine nature of southern Chile and Argentina, even at the expense of relationships with locals and others who disagreed with his view. As Bloomberg reported, Tompkins said, “I’m a social justice supporter, but there is no social justice on a dead planet. If you want to destroy the planet, you can kiss social justice goodbye. The earth comes first.”

But what exactly do the lands that Tompkins fought so hard to save from predation look like? What was it about them that got under his skin in 1968, when he ventured south in a tattered van with dusty companions like Yvon Chouinard, never really to leave? Photographer James Q Martin spent time with Tompkins and his wife, documenting their efforts and the lands they love, and these are a few of the images he brought back.

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Cerro Castillo in the Aysen Region of Patagonia, Chile.

Cerro Castillo in the Aysen Region of Patagonia, Chile.

Lago Bertrand, Aysen Region of Chile. Near Parque Pataogonia, Chile.

Lago Bertrand, Aysen Region of Chile. Near Parque Pataogonia, Chile.

Kris Tompkins in Valle Chacabuco -  in Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Kris Tompkins in Valle Chacabuco – in Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Flight with Doug Tompkins in Valle Chacabuco -  in Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Flight with Doug Tompkins in Valle Chacabuco – in Parque Patagonia, Chile.

The endangered Huemul  in Parque Patagonia, Chile.

The endangered Huemul in Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Luke Nelson, Jeff Browning and Krissy Moehl cut across some virgin terrain within the Valle Chacabuco, Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Luke Nelson, Jeff Browning and Krissy Moehl cut across some virgin terrain within the Valle Chacabuco, Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Lago General Carrera in the Aysen Region of Patagonia, Chile.

Lago General Carrera in the Aysen Region of Patagonia, Chile.

Guanacos in Tamangito Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Guanacos in Tamangito Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Camping at night in Valle Chacabuco, Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Camping at night in Valle Chacabuco, Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Cerro Kris in Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Cerro Kris in Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Valle Chacabuco in   Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Valle Chacabuco in Parque Patagonia, Chile.

The Baker Confluence - Aysen Region of Patagonia, Chile ( just outside of the park)

The Baker Confluence – Aysen Region of Patagonia, Chile ( just outside of the park)

Swan migration in Parque Patagonia Park, Chile.

Swan migration in Parque Patagonia Park, Chile.

Guanacos in Valle Chacabuco in   Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Guanacos in Valle Chacabuco in Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Valle Chacabuco in   Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Valle Chacabuco in Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Valle Chacabuco, Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Valle Chacabuco, Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Gauchos in Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Gauchos in Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Patagonia Park facilities from a distance after a rain.                             Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Patagonia Park facilities from a distance after a rain. Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Valle Chacabuco - Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Valle Chacabuco – Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Kris Tompkins in Valle Chacabuco -  in Parque Patagonia, Chile.

Kris Tompkins in Valle Chacabuco – in Parque Patagonia, Chile.

On the ground with Doug Tompkins in Parque Patagonia, Patagonia, Chile.

On the ground with Doug Tompkins in Parque Patagonia, Patagonia, Chile.

For more on the Tompkins’ efforts to preserve land in Patagonia from development, visit Conservacion Patagonica. For more of Martin’s work, visit jamesqmartin.com

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