Botanist Adriana Hoffmann, who fought for Chile’s forests, dies at 82


Adriana Hoffmann, a botanist who traveled through Chile deciphering vegetation and tirelessly working as a scientist, activist, writer and policy maker to protect her country’s vast forests from corporate exploitation, died at her home in the capital, Santiago, on March 20. She was 82 years old.

His daughter, Leonora Calderón Hoffmann, said she had been battling health problems for the past few years and died from an acute clot in her lung.

The presence of two Chilean cabinet ministers at his funeral made clear the importance of his legacy to the country where scientists-turned-politicians helped draft a new constitution. shaped by the climate crisis.

Friends and colleagues said Ms. Hoffman has a well-trained eye for spotting rare plants as she traverses Chile’s deserts and forests on foot or by jeep. HE IS classified More than 100 species.

This was the key skill behind the dozens of books he wrote, beginning in the 1970s, documenting the richness of the country’s flora, selecting its numerous native species, medicinal plants and cacti, and flowers blooming in the Atacama Desert. His books often came with his illustrations. Andres Julian and Francisco Ramos.

Ms. Hoffman’s activism emerged in the early 1990s as Chile began to recover from a military dictatorship that killed and tortured thousands of people while giving companies ample power to exploit natural resources.

At the time, activists were starting to tackle a number of projects they considered harmful to the environment, such as hydroelectric power plants and timber plantations. In 1992, two years after the fall of the dictatorship, Ms. Hoffmann became head of Defensores del Bosque Chileno, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Chile’s natural forests.

One of his most memorable books for editing is “La Tragedia del bosque chileno” (1998), which documents how Chile’s mining industries are destroying the country’s forests.

Ms. Hoffmann defended forests at a time when many saw it as an attack on economic development, especially in a country whose economy is heavily dependent on commodity exports.

It was only in 1993 that Chile established the National Environment Commission, or Conama, that would later change his life and legacy profoundly.

his last interview Published in January, he was asked what he had learned from the nature that devoted his life to him before he died. “Love,” she replied. “Nature gave me love.”

Adriana Elisabeth Hoffmann Jacoby was born on January 29, 1940, in Santiago, the daughter of renowned Chilean physician and scientist Franz Hoffmann and pioneering psychiatrist and spiritual guide Lola Hoffmann (born Helena Jacoby). Ms. Hoffmann went on to study agricultural science at the University of Chile before dropping out of school. She later switched to studying botany when she spent some time with her mother in Germany.

He trusted his parents, who nurtured his love of nature. “I have pictures of myself, very few, always with flowers and plants,” she said. meeting.

met in the early 1990s. Douglas TompkinsKristine Tompkins, an environmentalist and founder of clothing brands North Face and Esprit, and his wife, together bought about one million acres of Chile’s forest to preserve them.

Ms. Hoffmann said she recommended and supported Tompkins’ conservation efforts. In 2014, the region became mountainous. Yendegaia National Park.

“I would say that our understanding of Chilean flora really comes from everything Adriana,” said Ms. Tompkins, president of the nonprofit Tompkins Conservation group. “He was generous with his knowledge of ecosystems at a time when nobody thought much of it.”

In 1997, Ms. Hoffmann known Named one of the top 25 environmental leaders of that decade by the United Nations. Two years later, he was awarded the Chilean National Environment Award for his contribution to documenting and preserving the country’s natural ecosystems.

In 2000, Ricardo Lagos, the third president of Chile, who took office after the transition to democracy, invited Ms. Hoffmann to head Conama, the country’s top environmental agency, which would later become the Ministry of the Environment.

His friends warned the agency not to take the job, viewing it as too weak to challenge the big business interests that were taking advantage of the country’s lack of environmental protection at the time.

But Ms. Hoffmann saw President Lago’s invitation as an opportunity to fight for laws to protect native forests, and she accepted the post, becoming the first scientist to hold it at a time when environmentalists and women were rare sights in Chile’s halls of power.

But the forces against him turned out to be too great. He succeeded in implementing projects he considered important, such as the Senderos de Chile, a nationwide hiking trail, but faced pressure for his agenda and resigned from Conama 17 months later. A law protecting forests would take eight years to pass.

He later described his time in the office as the worst decision he’s ever made, as he finds himself caught between the overwhelming power of companies and the deep disappointment of other environmentalists.

His daughter Leonora said she never fully recovered from the experience. From then on, Ms. Hoffmann struggled with health issues, including stroke.

He was also survived by another daughter, Paz Hoffmann; two sons, Álvaro and Francisco; and five grandchildren.

But when he died, he became an inspiration to many environmentalists and scientists. In 2015, the Ministry of Environment established the Adriana Hoffmann Academy of Environmental Education to train teachers, public officials and the general public. More than 12,000 students have completed courses there.

Speaking at Ms. Hoffmann’s funeral, the newly appointed environment minister, Maisa Rojas, an accomplished climatologist, recognized the environmental barriers her predecessor faced and still challenge Chile and the rest of the world.

“We are now called to look at a nature that is more threatened and highly degraded than ever before,” he said. “As a women’s and environment minister I wore Adriana’s shoes and they are huge.”



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