With all the breathtaking photos we’ve seen on Instagram, it’s hard to believe that Masungi Georeserve used to be deforested and threatened by large-scale quarrying in the 1990s.
Thanks to a group of passionate individuals determined to rehabilitate the area, it has become a symbol of Filipinos’ strong commitment to the environment and wildlife conservation.
This was internationally recognized last September 16 when the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) awarded Masungi Georeserve as one of the world’s most sustainable and innovative tourism projects from the private sector.
"Projects like Masungi must be safeguarded and promoted especially in emerging countries like the Philippines where challenges persist. This is a great example of sustainable tourism making a difference in restoring and protecting areas of ecological significance," said Istvan Ujhelyi, UNWTO jury member and member of the European parliament.
This was the third international recognition received by Masungi in a year.
In October 2018, they received a special commendation at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UN-CBD) 14th Conference of Parties in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.
While in April 2019, they became a global finalist for Destination Stewardship Award at the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards in Seville, Spain.
"We are very honored to be recognized alongside established tourism organizations from across the world. Masungi is highly local and quite young when it comes to tourism, and to be acclaimed in front of hundreds of tourism ministers and high-ranking officials from UN member states is a rare feat,” said Ann Dumaliang, National Geographic Explorer and Masungi trustee said.
For Anna, education is an important part of their rehabilitation model. They aim to develop a new generation of conservationists.
“We conduct geotourism fairs and produce pride of place books for local elementary students. Under the ‘Young Explorers Program’, we also work with schools and educational institutions, both local and international, in organizing bioblitzes, bird-watching, and geology walks,” she said.
Recently, they organized a training program on how to document species found in backyards. It was done in partnership with the National Geographic Society.
“With this prestigious award, we would like to invite more organizations and government entities to join us in this victory and support our conservation efforts decisively. We also dedicate the awards to two of our champions whom we lost this year, renowned geologist Dr. Rollie Pena and environmentalist Gina Lopez," Anna said.
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Rea Gierran joined BrandRap in 2019 as a senior content producer. Most of her favorite work are published on GoodRap, a column that aims to share good news from brands and other private companies. Before joining Rappler, she dabbled in print media and digital marketing.