Jack Ma, one of China’s richest men and co-founder of the e-commerce giant Alibaba, recently invested in a US$23 million property in New York’s Adirondacks for conservation purposes and occasional personal retreats.
The 28,100-acre property, known as Brandon Park, features more than nine miles of the St. Regis River, numerous lakes, streams, ponds, forests, a 1940’s-styled log camp, two homes and a horse barn. While 2.6 million acres of the land belong to the state, 3.4 million acres are privately owned. It also has a brook trout fishery, a hatchery that produces a heritage strain of brook trout and a private-label maple syrup operation.
Brandon Park was hit by serious pollution and haze problems in the late 1800s. The area’s forests were cleared by logging, mining, charcoal and paper industries, which severely damaged its soil, waterways and wildlife. In an effort to protect the land, New York in 1892 created the six-million-acre Adirondack Park, which Brandon Park is currently a part of.
The property first went up for sale for US$28 million in 2012, then for US$22.5 million in 2014. Ma had reportedly purchased it in May through the real-estate firm New Brand LLC. Landvest.
This is the billionaire’s first investment in land conservation outside of China, and he plans to form a non-profit entity to manage the park. As the chairman of the China board of the Nature Conservancy and founding member of the Sichuan Nature Conservation Foundation, Ma was interested in this land because of its former environmental issues.
“Protecting the environment in China will always be Jack’s first and foremost priority, and he will continue his strong efforts here,” said Jim Wilkinson, a spokesman for Ma, in an WSJ report. “This international land purchase reflects Jack’s belief that we all inhabit the same planet and we all breathe the same air, so we are dependent on each other for our collective future.”
As the new owner of the land, Ma will stop all commercial developments, such as the existing logging operations, and increase investments in protecting the land’s natural environment.
[Images via Tencent]
By Sharon Choi