I am sorry to be a little slow in responding to an article written specifically about me, but we live in a very isolated place and we just received a copy of the Nov. 29 front-page story "Rain Forest Gift Raises Suspicions."
A few serious errors need correcting. First, the suggestion that I began quietly buying land in Chile fails to take into account my extreme transparency beginning in 1991 -- prior to buying anything -- when I visited the minister of land management (a cabinet post) and his sub-secretary and explained my idea. When I got government permission to invest $25 million for land and forest preservation in Chile, it was reported in a government public information magazine. I went directly to the region's governor and explained to him, then in 1992 cooperated with state TV on a half-hour prime-time program about our plans seen by more than 4 million Chileans, 25 percent of the entire population. That's not exactly being secretive -- especially if you want to keep prices down.
I have not "attacked" the salmon industry, as your paper reports. The issue began with a specific salmon farm adjacent to our farm that dumps dead fish on our land, cuts our trees, dirties the beaches and illegally and systematically kills sea lions and does so with arrogance. We attempted politely and eventually via litigation to get them to behave as decent neighbors.
We have no plans on becoming a "self-sustaining colony," an absurdity in the modern world, although we have a functioning farm and provide a great deal of our own food, as do millions of other Chileans living in the rural countryside.
Your article failed to point out that the emergent Chilean environmental movement has millions of adherents and that our project also enjoys tremendous public and grass-roots support despite being opposed by the power elites. And while some who oppose us are united in part by some segments of the church, our foundation in Chile is headed by a Catholic bishop.
Finally, Deep Ecology theorists as far as I know have never advocated trees over humans except to say that it is to be a more dignified human to protect trees and animals. Saint Francis of Assisi advocated very much the same thing. -- Douglas Tompkins