Exotic South American forest set aside as wilderness by … bankers?

When New York investment banking and management firm Goldman Sachs acquired a logging operation in Tierra del Fuego, on an island off the southernmost tip of Chile, it did something unusual: Rather than “seek to maximize its economic value, which is what we would have done if this were a shopping mall or an apartment building,” says the firm’s Larry Linden, “we decided to do what we thought was the right thing” — dedicate the land, more than 1,000 square miles, as a wilderness reserve. The U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society will administer the reserve, but to avoid the PR and political difficulties that have faced other foreign green do-gooders in Chile and Argentina, WCS will work in conjunction with an advisory council to be composed largely of Chileans. Tierra del Fuego has long fascinated naturalists: It is one of the southernmost temperate forests in the world and home to an unusual variety of plants and birds — not to mention the guanaco, a relative of the camel that wards off attackers by spitting on them.