Masungi Georeserve asks for gov't help to protect conservation site from quarrying
Barbed wires are put up in the conservation site Masungi Georeserve.
Masungi Georeserve Foundation, Handout

Masungi Georeserve asks for gov't help to protect conservation site from quarrying

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - March 3, 2020 - 11:48am

MANILA, Philippines — The Masungi Georeserve in Rizal province asked for protection from the government after a quarry company had fenced off some 500 hectares of its assigned reforestation site.  

Last week, quarry company Rapid City put up barbed wires to cordon off a part of forestland reserved for Masungi’s conservation work despite the absence of any document or permit.

“The day after the fencing incident on February 26, they returned to reinforce the fences they had erected. We saw that they had cut down some trees to use as reinforcement,” Billie Dumaliang, Masungi Georeserve Foundation trustee and advocacy officer, told Philstar.com in an online exchange.

“Most of the barbed wires were removed though many remnants remain at the site. We received reports that they intend to come back anytime with uniformed men to continue fencing,” she added.

While some local personnel of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources went to the site to take documentation, the central office has yet to act on the matter.

The foundation asked the government to reinforce and implement the order which bans quarrying in Masungi and the larger Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape.

“We are calling on the president and the DENR to stop the illegal fencing immediately and evict the quarry company and other land speculators once and for all. They are incompatible with and dangerous to the environment,” Masungi said in a separate statement.

A group of individuals and organizations launched an online petition Monday to save the reforestation efforts in the geopark.

“We need everyone’s support and help to manage all of these risks and protect Masungi as well as the watershed where it is a part of,” Dumaliang said.

Wildlife sanctuary

Located in Baras town, the Masungi Georeserve is a conservation site that features 60 million-year old limestone pinnacles, making it a popular destination for hikes and day trips.

It also hosts 400 wildlife species, many of them endemic, threatened or endangered.

“Masungi is one of the five places in the country where you can find the beautiful purple jade vine. It is also home to more than 70 species of birds including the Luzon Tarictic Hornbill, Malkoha and Philippine Scops Owl,” Dumaliang said.

The geopark has the highest biodiversity of snails so far recorded in the Philippines.

“At 47 species of these vulnerable animals, this only goes to show how well-protected Masungi is,” Dumaliang said.

But quarrying—along with land speculation for commercial purposes, treasure hunting, kaingin and illegal logging—poses threat to the flora and fauna in the area.

Masungi said the same quarry company and other land speculators have used uniformed personnel to harass Masungi’s project teams.

In 1993, DENR issued an administrative order declaring Masungi as a strict nature reserve and wildlife sanctuary. Under the order, the area is off-limits to “mining location, exploration, development and exploitation and other activities which might affect adversely the habitat and the ecological balance in the area.

In 2017, the agency tasked the foundation to reforest and rewild some 3,000 hectares of the site’s heavily degraded land. Since then, 47,000 native trees have been planted in the geopark.

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