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tompkins conservation

Albi Brückner’s vision for the NamibRand was matched by fellow conservation enthusiast, Doug Tompkins, the founder of global brands Northface and Esprit who traded it all in to pursue his passion for conservation. They were private landscape philanthropists well ahead of their time.

Doug spent decades interacting with leading thinkers in ecological philosophy, technology criticism, agroecology, conservation biology and activism. He became convinced that there would be no chance to reverse the current eco-social crisis without a deep, systemic critique of the industrial growth economy and the world view behind it. Turning away from industrial agriculture and toward regenerative, agroecological food systems in order to benefit humanity and our relations in the community of life was the “eco-agriculture” path to healing the earth and its inhabitants.

Although Albi's and Doug’s respective locations for conservation impact couldn’t have been further apart – Albi in Namibia and Doug in South America – they shared the common goal of converting dilapidated farmland into open rangeland systems. Not surprisingly, their paths eventually crossed with Doug and his wife, Kris, visiting Wolwedans. 

In addition to the daily inspiration they each brought, a particular gem of wisdom stuck: Albi for teaching that, “your last shirt does not have a pocket” and Doug for his aesthetic credo that “life is too short to build ugly things”.  Both resonate with Wolwedans’ plotted journey for conservation and human development through The AridEden Project.

Wolwedans is forever grateful for, and influenced by, the legacy left by both Doug and Albi. Sadly, both of these wildland philanthropists passed away, and exactly one year apart to the day – the 8th of December. In the words of Doug’s wife, Kris, they are now both “flying at a very high altitude”. 

The image above was taken during a visit of Doug and Kris Tompkins to NamibRand some years ago. The "happy being" posture expressed by Doug at Boulders found its way into the AridEden logo. More information about Tompkins Conservation can be found at