Patagonia’s Holdfast Collective Is Putting $5M Toward Conserving the American Amazon

The nonprofit is donating millions to help protect Alabama's Mobile-Tensaw Delta, an area known as "America's Amazon."

Birds eye view of river surrounded by forest
The river delta is renowned for its vast biodiversity. Hunter Nichols/Courtesy The Nature Conservancy

Holdfast Collective, the nonprofit that owns 98 percent of apparel brand Patagonia, is donating more than $5 million to conservation efforts in Alabama’s Mobile-Tensaw Delta.

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The gift is the largest donation to date from the grant-making entity, which since 2022 has funneled Patagonia’s profits toward a wide range of environmental causes, and will enable global conservation organization The Nature Conservancy to acquire nearly 8,000 acres of land in Clarke County, Alabama.

Known as the “Land Between the Rivers” due to its proximity to the merging of the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers, the area’s creeks, rivers, ponds, oxbow lakes and freshwater species make it one of the world’s most ecologically diverse places. “This tract represents the largest remaining block of land that we can protect in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta,” said Mitch Reid, The Nature Conservancy’s Alabama state director, in a statement.

Along with $5.2 million from Holdfast Collective, the land purchase will be funded by contributions from individual donors, $3 million in internal funding from The Nature Conservancy and a $10 million in revolving loan funded by an undisclosed source.

The nonprofit behind Patagonia

Holdfast Collective was created two years ago when Yvon Chouinard, the rock climber and environmentalist who founded Patagonia in 1973, transferred ownership of the apparel company, sacrificing his billionaire status in the process. Around two percent of Patagonia went to a trust designed to retain company independence, while the rest of the company was donated to Holdfast Collective.

“Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth for all investors, we’ll use the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source of all wealth,” said Chouinard in a letter announcing the restructuring. Overseeing five nonprofit groups, Holdfast Collective annually receives all Patagonia profits that are not reinvested in the company. It has doled out around $71 million of company earnings to climate-focused causes as of January.

In addition to supporting Democratic groups, the entity has funneled money into environmental efforts like the removal of obsolete dams in California and the blocking of a proposed mine in Alaska. Its global projects, meanwhile, have funded conservation efforts in Chile and Argentina, Alaska’s Bristol Bay and the Vjosa River in Albania.

View of large tree trunks growing out of marsh
The Mobile-Tensaw Delta is home to the largest number of freshwater species in the U.S. Hunter Nichols/Courtesy The Nature Conservancy

Holdfast Collective was an early investor in The Nature Conservancy’s efforts to purchase the Mobile-Tensaw Delta tract, according to Reid, who said the nonprofit “recognizes the global importance of this landscape.” Often referred to as “America’s Amazon” for its vast biodiversity, the Mobile-Tensaw Delta is the second-largest intact delta system in North America and offers one of the most promising opportunities for carbon capture in the nation.

“The Holdfast Collective sees Alabama, and the Land Between the Rivers, as a landscape that is as critical to the project as our other priority areas around the globe,” said Greg Curtis, director of the Holdfast Collective, in a statement. “This is the first step in a long-term strategy with our partners in Alabama to protect America’s Amazon.”

Patagonia’s Holdfast Collective Is Putting $5M Toward Conserving the American Amazon