Ma pushes ahead with his vision for a cleaner tomorrow
Billionaire Alibaba boss buys $23mBrandon Park in the US as he expands his investment in environmental protection
Billionaire Jack Ma has always been a leading advocate of environmental protection and now he has invested $23 million in a private park in up state NewYork.
The executive chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd last month splashed out on the 120-acre Brandon Park in Adirondacks, northern New York state, in the United States, as part of his conservation plans.
Along with his wife, Zhang Ying, Ma bought the pristine park through his Peach Garden Ecological Conservation Foundation, which he founded in April with another Chinese Internet tycoon PonyMa.
“Brandon Park is a living proof of conservation,” a statement released by the Alibaba Group, which is based in Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang province in eastern China, highlighted.
Without going into further details, the Peach Garden Foundation plans to set up similar projects in China to help solve some of the country’s environmental problems.
Ma, whose net worth is estimated to be as much as $23.9 billion, has made considerable donations to conservation efforts here, helping to create the Sichuan Nature Conservation Foundation and the Laohegou Nature Reserve in Sichuan, Southwest China.
Last year, he created a charitable trust that now has an endowment of $3 billion.
“Protecting the environment in China will always be Jack’s first and foremost priority, and he will continue his strong efforts there,” Jim Wilkinson, a spokesman for Alibaba in the US, told The Wall Street Journal.
“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.”
Ma acquired the estate through New Brandon LLC. And it was once part of a nature reserve created by the legendary 20th century US tycoon William A. Rockefeller Jr, co-founder of Standard Oil.
“Brandon Park is a paradise,” Phil Brown, the editor of the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly which focuses on environmental issues, said.
“Twenty-eight thousand acres with 7 miles (11.2 kilometers) of pristine river, 11 brooktrout ponds, and a 2,200-foot (671-meter) mountain.”
As soon as thePeach Garden Foundation acquired the park, all commercial development, such as logging, was closed down. Ma plans to set up a conservation study into the park’s brook trout.
“It is the responsibility of a Chinese entrepreneur to engage in environmental protection around the world,” Alibaba said in a statement. Apart from the newly founded Peach Garden Foundation, Ma also sits on the board of directors of The Nature Conservancy, a charitable environmental organization in the US.
About 3 percent of Alibaba’s annual profit is used on public welfare and environmental protection policies.
But replicating his plans for Brandon Park in China might be more difficult. “Due to the difference between land ownership systems in the US and China, the land trust model — buying a piece of land for environmental protection only— is more difficult to do here,” said Zhang Boju, director of the Beijing-based Friends of Nature, a leading nonprofit organization in conservation protection.
Still, there are similar pilot projects in Sichuan province, although progress has slow. Hopefully, that change in the future.
“Because of the effects of pollution on people’s lives, more and more entrepreneurs are followingMa’s lead in environmental protection,” Zhang said.
Last year, Ma was ranked the Chinese mainland’s leading philanthropist by Hurun Research Institute. He gave away 14.65 billion yuan ($2.36 billion) on charitable causes and environmental projects.
Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman of the Hurun Report, pointed out that it was an interesting move by Ma to invest in an overseas ecological venture. been
“This is a very meaningful step by Jack Ma to invest in conservation in New York,” he said. “It is a sign that Chinese entrepreneurs are now looking outside the country.
“This is just like Bill Gates andWarren Buffett, great philanthropists and billionaires in the US. They make donations throughout the world, which in turn helped benefit the poor,” he added.
Hoogewerf believes there is a growing trend among Chinese billionaires to invest in environmental projects, or other charitable ventures, across the globe.
“What is even more brilliant is that Ma has founded his own foundation — the Peach Garden Ecological Conservation Foundation — to protect the environment,” he said.
“Ma is building an ecosystem, which will attract donations from other Chinese billionaires. This will help create change in the future. Ma is extremely passionate about conservation issues,” Hoogewerf added.