Goldman Sachs | Tierra Del Fuego
At the extreme southern tip of South America lies an extraordinary place called Tierra Del Fuego, centuries after Magellan discovered it, much here remains unchanged. Today, a unique partnership between Goldman Sachs and the Wildlife Conservation Society is working to keep it that way.
Henry Paulson: We have a unit in the mortgage finance department that seeks to buy distressed debt to turn a profit for Goldman Sachs. They had been examining bidding on a pool of eight or nine secured notes which were delinquent and they had come across the fact that one of these notes was secured by 800,000 acres in Tierra Del Fuego, which was really a very unique track of land. If we were successful on winning this pool of mortgages, we could work to turn this 800,000 acres into a nature preserve.
To me, what Goldman Sachs is as its best is an organization that takes great ideas and matches them with capital. In the normal course of our business, we’re talking about economics and we’re talking about ideas that lead to financial transactions. This was a great idea, but this was an idea about the public good.
Bob Christie: It was just a unique opportunity where the focus was to do something other than just focus on the dollars. This was about doing the right thing with a property that should be in conservation.
Larry Linden: It was not going to be Goldman Sachs that would execute the program of converting this property into a property managed nature reserve, so we chose the Wildlife Conversation Society. We discovered a lot of affinities between WCS and Goldman Sachs, their respect for technical excellence and innovation and a high degree of proactivity.
Brad Gillman: At Goldman, I would say it’s highly unusual for a trader to be actively involved in a situation like this. Me personally coming down here has been an amazing experience. It’s a beautiful landscape, to see these boreal forests as they are today is really amazing.
Dr. Harris: The peat bog is made up of lichens and mosses and short plants, but the predominant species is a species of moss which is called sphagnum. And it’s this yellow moss here that are very characteristic of this part of Tierra Del Fuego. The peat bogs trap carbon from the air and they transform it into organic carbon. Humanity is producing carbon at very rapid rates and anything we can do that’s gonna trap that carbon from the atmosphere is very important.
Steve Sanderson: Tierra Del Fuego is important partly because of the way the world was put together and the way it’s evolved. This is the very tip of South America and its forests and peat bogs and grasslands are unique. There are very few examples of sub-Antarctic forest and this is probably the greatest example remaining. This could be one of the great conservation gifts of our lifetime. It will stand with the establishment of the great protected areas of the world. This will be a tremendous legacy for the people of our generation to offer to the next.
Henry Paulson: We had someone in the organization to say, “Gee, there’s an opportunity to do a tremendous amount of good here.” Now this is not our basic business and maybe the next time we come up with something like this to do, it will have nothing to do with the environment. It will have something to do with some other social good. I’m just very, very proud of the organization. This seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity and this to me represented the best of Goldman Sachs, a very, very imaginative approach.