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Santiago Figueroa


We think of the desert as being dry and dead. But for Santiago Figueroa, it’s teeming with life that must be preserved at all costs. As a child, Santiago spent his vacations in the desert admiring the beautiful array of cacti native to Chile. He would bring home torn cacti and repot them, being amazed each time they revived and grew bigger. Today, he pretty much does the same thing in a 200 square meter greenhouse that houses over 600 species of cacti, one of the largest in the world. 


Despite their incredible resilience to heat and drought, over half the cacti native to Chile are endangered. Santiago has put his degree in environmental engineering to good use, working tirelessly to save these plants for the sake of our planet’s ecosystem. Santiago collects seed samples from across the desert and recreates them in a lab to keep their species going. A lengthy process that takes immense passion and expertise. 


The constant struggle to preserve cacti against climate change, construction projects, and plant collectors hasn’t dulled Santiago’s dedication to preserve these essential and beautiful plants. No wonder he feels kinship with a plant known for its resilience.


Pictures of Santiago
Pictures of Santiago