Sofia Heinonen with Kris and Doug Tompkins

Creating Iberá National Park, with Sofía Heinonen

A lifelong activist, Sofía Heinonen led some of the first efforts to bring rewilding to South America more than 15 years ago with the restoration of the Iberá wetlands, the largest wetland ecosystem in Argentina.  

What accomplishments are you most proud of during your remarkable journey with Fundacion Rewilding Argentina?

What makes me most proud is having obtained the agreement for the donation of the Iberá lands to National Parks, revolutionising the way that the national, the provincial and the foundation together can bring money into the country.  We continue to successfully restore the landscape which provides safe habitat for 6 keystone species and in turn, through tourism, creates an economic driver for local communities, creating a historic, longstanding model for the country. 

Who has had the greatest influence on you during your life?

It would be Doug Tompkins, who had the vision to innovate and challenge, but at the same time be in every detail of the implementation. He gave me a lot of strength to think big, while reminding me of the importance of not overlooking the small details, as it is in the careful execution of the details that the significant change occurs.


What was the greatest lesson, or lessons, you learned?

The most important lesson I learnt was to have values, and stay true to these throughout my life. If we are solid in our values we can listen to what the planet needs at this time, and try to protect it in the best way we can. For me, it is to save threatened species and create a regenerative economy.  Having clear values, and pursuing them with conviction, is what creates the big ideas and makes us embark on a revolutionary path.

The climate crisis is overwhelming and we often feel too small to solve it.  What are the small wins each of us can do to make a difference?

I would say being clear and living according to one’s values is where we must start.  We each have to fight for the future of the planet, to resolve biodiversity loss and work for and toward an economy that does not threaten the planet, starting with our own ecosystem.  These small battles make us part of a greater movement, and there is a new generation that is willing to share the planet with other species, and that means there is hope for tomorrow.

How can female leaders mobilise positive change not only within their team, but within the community?

Women leadership today means pursuing a vision that considers the community as a whole.  This ability to empathise and understand others is an intrinsic part of being a woman and I think that role is very important in this significant time for conservation.  The world needs not to be thinking so much about individuals, power for power’s sake, but always working for the well being of others.  I think that is the essence of successful women leadership.

Engage with this remarkable conservation project firsthand, in an exclusive journey hosted by Sofía Heinonen and the Fundación Rewilding Argentina team 

22nd – 29th September 2024


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At a Glance: Fundación
Rewilding Argentina


…acres (or 750,000 hectares) of land protected.


…metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent sequestered.


…acres donated for new parkland creation.


This extraordinary wetland, the largest in Argentina, is home to 30% of the biodiversity in the country including endangered species such as the pampas and marsh deer, the maned wolf and grassland birds like the strange-tailed tyrant.

In 2005, what was to become one of the largest rewilding programs in the Americas was started, with the goal of restoring keystone species that had been extirpated from Iberá through hunting and habitat loss and were extinct in the region, the Province or, in some cases, the country. 

As the rewilding program developed, the cultural identity of Iberá began to recover alongside the ecosystems and natural processes, impacting a total population of 100,000 people who surround the park.

Today, Iberá stands as one of the world’s most successful ongoing conservation missions.