THE Masungi Geopark Project won the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Action Award under the Inspire Category.
Out of 3,000 entries from over 150 countries, the Masungi Georeserve Foundation topped the competition for its youth-led efforts in combating deforestation and climate change through the restoration and protection of the Masungi landscape and parts of the Upper Marikina Watershed.
The judges commended Masungi for being “bold enough to participate in national legislative inquiries, and direct lobbying and going above and beyond through their engagement with the general public, and the creativity of their storytelling.”
In her acceptance speech during the awarding ceremony held in Bonn, Germany, Masungi trustee Billie Dumaliang dedicated the award to Masungi rangers and team, whom she said are the ones “getting their hands and feet dirty to defend our forests.”
“You don’t know how much this means to us, at such a critical time when our work continues to be undermined and under-supported in our home country,” Dumaliang said.
She also thanked the allies, partners and the entire community who have helped the project endure.
“To the people who have said that we are dreaming too big, that this is the way things have always been, and that we are pushing too far. This is for you. This is a reminder that we will not stop. That we will win in the end with our energy and creativity,” she added.
Dumaliang cited the study of the Global Witness, which said that the Philippines is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental defenders.
“We are not only representing Masungi but all Filipinos who suffer the most from the climate crisis and all environment defenders, who are risking their lives for our shared future,” she said.
Heralded as one of the most innovative nature-based projects in the world, Masungi has won numerous international awards and recognition.
It is a landmark Filipino forest restoration project that has been lauded for its effective and sustainable models in conservation, engineering, community engagement, geotourism and conservation financing.
Previous global recognitions and awards include those from the UN Development Program, International Union for Conservation of Nature, National Geographic, UN World Tourism Organization, World Travel and Tourism Council, and the Global Water Partnership.
Dumaliang said quarrying companies with mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs) are currently the biggest threat to Masungi’s efforts.
“Masungi continues to call on the government to finally cancel the large-scale MPSAs covering more than 1,000 hectares of critical watershed and protected areas,” she said.
The Masungi Geopark Project started in 2017 through an agreement with the government. It became one of the largest collaborative reforestation efforts in the country using self-generated funds from low volume geotourism.
Over 2,000 hectares of land have been rescued, 17 ranger stations and 18 kilometers of monitoring trails established, 100 rangers and 200 partners engaged, and over 200 households have been supported, while more than 70,000 native trees have been planted and nurtured.