Restoring forgotten watersheds through youth-led movements

Co-Creation Challenges

2024.03.27

Corporation

Name of team Masungi Geopark Project
Our Partner Buhay Ilang Research, Conservation and Education

Country or countries of your activity

Philippines

Themes of Activity

Tourism

Biodiversity, natural environment, organisms

Agriculture, forestry, fishery

Environment, energy

Recycling-oriented society, circular economy

Diversity and inclusiveness

Our Co-Creation Challenge

In 2017, the Masungi Georeserve Foundation entered into a landmark agreement with the national government to restore and rewild some 3,000 hectares of degraded land around the Masungi limestone formations using self-generated funds from low-volume, nature-based experiences. The project, largely led by young people under 30, increased measures to protect this area from threats like quarrying, treasure-hunting and land trafficking by engaging up to 100 full-time park rangers and forming coalitions with different sectors. We have over 200 corporate partners in tree planting and nurturing. While the primary focus of the georeserve is on preserving and restoring natural landscapes, flora, and fauna, the foundation contributes significantly to the well-being of various life forms. The georeserve serves as a sanctuary for a diverse range of plant and animal species, many of which endangered or vulnerable. By preserving biodiversity, the georeserve helps maintain ecological balance and ensures the survival of numerous life forms. The foundation's conservation efforts also contribute to improving air and water quality in the Upper Marikina Watershed, directly benefiting the health and well-being of surrounding communities. Masungi Georeserve's conservation initiatives and sustainable practices directly and indirectly contribute to saving lives. By protecting biodiversity, improving environmental conditions, preventing natural disasters, and promoting community well-being, the georeserve serves as a model for how environmental stewardship can have profound positive effects on various aspects of life including human health and safety.

Development of initiatives

Methods and Areas for Future Development Since implementing the geotourism model, Masungi Georeserve Foundation has recoved more than 2,000 hectares of previously degraded forest land, planted more than 100,000 native Filipino trees planted and nurtured, documented 500+ flora and fauna. Our long-term goal is to regain 80% forest cover in the project site within 15-20 years. Furthermore, Masungi has positively impacted the following: (1) Employment – from seasonal workers or contractual or loggers, most have now become full time employees with benefits. (2) Visitors - Based on feedback, visitors are more engaged in advocacy and continue long after their trail. 25,000+ have signed the Save Masungi petition. 200,000+ followers on social media to continue engagement with the Foundation. (3) Restoration - Based on research by scientists, areas where reforestation has occurred within the project site have higher biodiversity index than areas that have not been restored. (4) Local economy and tourism - A recent research showed that majority of visitors to Masungi are first-time visitors to the Rizal Province. This shows that we have become the gateway for economic and tourism activities in the province. Today, many other tourism destinations and restaurants have emerged near us, showcasing the multiplier effect of our initiative. This case shows that tourism can be a powerful driver for the conservation of nature. The term ‘georeserve’ (trademarked to the Foundation) could be used by several other destinations in Southeast Asia and the world which have outstanding geological and biodiversity value. Our learnings were also published in a chapter written by our co-founders in the International Handbook of Geotourism which was published in Australia. In 2019, we received a grant to develop a digital visitor management platform to empower nature-based destination managers to optimise tourism for conservation by enforcing carrying capacities and policies. Furthermore, we have been able our sustainable tourism practices, visitor protocols, digital strategies, and more to more than 200 local government officials from over 15 localities and provinces in the past few years. Our iconic structures and trail highlights have already been replicated in at least four (4) other locations in the Philippines. Visitors from the World Travel and Tourism Council, Yale University, Harvard University, and the like, have visited the Masungi Georeserve and Masungi Geopark Project to learn from it. We have also assisted other national parks in creating bridges for rangers and indigenous people, such as the Tamaraw sanctuary in the Hamiguitan Wildlife Reserve. Therefore, our learnings and practices are shared regionally. Masungi Georeserve Foundation continues to be active in global conferences such as the World Economic Forum and the UN Climate Change Conferences, thereby amplifying our impact and message across the globe.
People who wish to work with We want to work with entrepreneurs and business organizations to enable more social innovation in our nature-based experiences while lifting our nearby communities out of poverty. This includes training, capacity-building, business incubation, and R&D for sustainable, forest-based products for our community partners and indigenous groups. In addition, we want to broaden, measure, and communicate our economic impact so that governments and communities support conservation initiatives more. Further, we want to work with research and scientific organizations to be able to monitor conservation outcomes in the long-term, discover new ways of improving protection on the ground through technological applications, as well as establish the ecological significance of preserving biodiversity and limestones. Finally, we want to work with media partners and storytellers from around to world to raise awareness and broad support for our cause in innovative ways.

Our SDGs