Masungi and partners deploy enhanced forest protection solutions and monitoring trails in critical areas of the Masungi Geopark Project (MGP). This comes as a response to threats of quarrying, forest fires, kaingin, hunting of wildlife, landgrabbing and logging in its reforestation areas during the lockdowns.
Recently, park rangers from the Masungi Georeserve Foundation and members of the 80th Infantry Battalion conducted a joint patrol to inspect and secure pine trees and areas recently saved from quarrying.
“The participation of enforcement agencies like the Army and PNP is critical to ensuring the sustained protection of Masungi, and we thank them and their leaders for their dedication in protecting our threatened forests,” Ann Dumaliang, Managing Trustee, said.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources under the leadership of Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has also instructed rapid response teams from local offices to enforce environmental laws at Masungi and the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL).
International organisations such as the National Geographic Society, Wildlife Protection Solutions, and Vulcan have also extended their expertise by providing camera traps and remote monitoring technology.
“These will not only help in preventing harmful encroachments but also in documenting and telling field stories through photography and sound. We are in talks with more partners to make Masungi a model for enforcement using the latest conservation technology,” Dumaliang noted.
A landmark reforestation initiative
The MGP — one of the largest collaborative reforestation projects in the country — aims to rewild some 3,000 hectares of degraded lands around the award-winning conservation and geotourism project, Masungi Georeserve.
By creating a “wildlife corridor” between the Upper Marikina Watershed and Kaliwa Watershed, the project will help restore depleting water, prevent dangerous landslides and flash floods, and provide green livelihood to local communities while bringing back native biodiversity, almost entirely financed by innovative and low-impact geotourism.
At the onset of the quarantines, a quarry operator attempted to block access of park rangers to almost 500 hectares of the reforestation area by hammering barbed wires into native tibig trees. Secretary Roy Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has vowed to cancel quarrying permits inside the protected and conserved area.
Partnerships for nature
Before this, the reforestation site has suffered decades of abuse and neglect from illicit and large-scale buying and selling of forestland, illegal logging, and land conversion, resulting in the loss of almost all tree cover and destroying habitats of native wildlife like the Tarictic Hornbill, Luzon Cloud Rat, and the rare purple Jade Vine, which can only be found in four other places in the country and the world.
The MGP has planted and nurtured over 47,000 native trees together with over 200 corporate partners, 40 school and educational partners and over 30 NGO and research partners. It engages up to 100 full-time park rangers and supports clean water interventions as well as recent COVID response for over 250 households.
Those interested to be a partner in this ambitious project can contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.