Capturing the public spotlight in recent months because of the grave and continuing threats to the lives of its trustees Ann and Billie Dumaliang and their few workers, the Masungi Georeserve Foundation has been leading the reforestation and defense of the watershed around the Masungi site in Baras, Rizal for years. In the late 1990s, illegal logging and large-scale quarrying by landgrabbing groups deforested the area. In 2017, the foundation began the restoration of nearly 2,700 hectares of degraded forestland under a landmark agreement with former Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez.
In 2019, two Masungi forest rangers were shot in the head and on the neck by goons from an illegal resort that had defied the watershed’s protected area status. This February, a group affiliated with the landgrabbers beat up seven rangers while they were having lunch near their base.
Despite these challenges, the organization has continuously campaigned to stop quarrying operations. It has been able to rally three mayors in the National Capital Region and two more from the Rizal province to their cause. Today, their campaign has successfully resulted in the closure of three inactive mines by the DENR.
The foundation has also consistently campaigned for climate justice and called on global leaders to be the first in line to protect not only wild spaces but also the people who take care of them.
During the 2022 presidential elections, it also joined #AtinAngPilipinas campaign that pushed for an environment and climate agenda and for a just and green recovery. After the new Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos administration was installed, Masungi even made calls for the new administration to put in place a new DENR Secretary that was not just a bureaucrat, but one who would actively champion the environment.
The Masungi Georeserve won the global model for conservation innovation and excellence at the inaugural Pathfinder Awards 2021 presented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and WildArk. It was nominated in 2018 as a global finalist for the UNWTO Awards for Enterprises, the flagship awards of the global tourism sector, along with two other finalists from Italy and India.