Climate and Environment

Green groups seek relocation of planned wind farm outside Masungi

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Green groups seek relocation of planned wind farm outside Masungi
Drone image from Masungi Georeserve Foundation shows drilling operations by Rizal Wind Energy Corp. at the Masungi Karst Conservation Area.
Masungi Georeserve Foundation, Handout

MANILA, Philippines — Environmental organizations have called for the relocation of a planned wind energy farm away from the Masungi Karst Conservation Area (MKCA) to safeguard the fragile ecosystem from degradation and encroachment. 

Over 30 groups asked the Rizal Wind Energy Corporation (RWEC) and its parent company, Singapore-based Vena Energy, to explore “alternative, less ecologically sensitive” sites for its renewable energy project. 

Shifting to cleaner energies like solar and wind is essential to mitigate the impacts of climate change. However, environmental organizations stressed that clean energy initiatives should not come at the expense of the country’s natural heritage.

“Our plea is for a thoughtful consideration of the balance between progress and preservation, a balance we find dangerously compromised by the proposed project,” the groups said. 

The joint petition sent to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Tuesday also asked the government to immediately revoke any permits allowing the exploration or development of RWEC’s wind farm.

It also called for a halt to the processing of applications for similar projects within the MKCA and the broader Masungi Geopark Project, a 2,700-hectare reforestation initiative in the Upper Marikina watershed.

Over the years, the Masungi Geopark Foundation, the caretaker of the conservation area, has fought with entities who want to use the land for quarrying, building resorts and growing crops. 

In 2023, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) announced its plan to transfer its headquarters to a parcel of land within the Masungi Georeserve, but shelved it following public opposition.

SPECIAL REPORTPools, ‘plunderers’ make Upper Marikina watershed conservation a hard and perilous task

Threat to species

According to the groups, the MKCA is covered by the Presidential Proclamation 1636, which declared parcels of lands in Rizal as a national park, wildlife sanctuary and game preserve. The MKCA management plan also designated the site as a strict protection zone. 

The area is home to more than 500 documented flora and fauna species, including the endangered Philippine hawk-eagles, serpent eagles and flying foxes. 

The organizations said that wind turbines represent a direct threat to the survival of birds and bats within the sanctuary.

They added that the construction of the wind farm and roads does not only threaten conservation efforts but also paves the way for future encroachment and degradation. 

“Such developments, by disrupting the natural ruggedness of the karst terrain, could spell irreversible damage to the area's biodiversity and geological significance, including the potential loss of ancient fossils and the Paleocene-age limestone spine that defines the region,” the joint petition read.

The groups also said that the reclassification of parts of Masungi as multiple use zones should be evaluated based on specific site conditions.

Signatories of the petition include ABS-CBN Foundation, Greenpeace Philippines, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, and World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines.

Compliance with procedures

According to the DENR, the company behind the wind farm has halted its drilling activities in the area. 

“They’re in the process of winding up and taking their equipment to another side,” DENR Undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna said in a briefing last week. 

The proposed wind farm received an environmental compliance certificate, which certifies that a proposed project will not cause significant ecological damage and that the proponent has complied with the requirements of the Environmental Impact Statement system.

Vena Energy earlier said it followed proper procedures for its wind study and expressed willingness to collaborate with concerned parties.

“Vena Energy ensures that in every project, it adheres to all government regulations and mandatory testing and compliance,” it said. 

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