Taking environmental conservation to the next level, Masungi Georeserve has opened its doors to the public in 2015. In the 1990s, this now-legendary forest has been heavily deforested due to excessive coal-making activities, illegal logging, and quarrying in the area. These activities, mostly carried out illegally, had displaced natives who depend on the forest for income and survival. Since then and up until now, massive reforestation and rehabilitation have been ongoing.
Masungi Georeserve, conveniently located at the east of Manila, has gained huge popularity among young people who have been wanting to escape the buzzing and polluted Metro. It offers a superb view of the Sierra Madre, the country’s longest mountain range, and Laguna de Bay, one of the famous lakes. Also, this place has, arguably, become the epitome of marriage of tourism and environmental conservation.
Ecoutourism, according to the International Ecotourism Society, is said to have three essential aspects: 1) Conservation, 2) Community, and 3) Interpretation.
CONSERVATION. The geopark’s managers have been so adamant of protecting the forest and its inhabiting creatures. They only allow two groups, maximum of 14 people, to explore within the day. This observance of the carrying capacity of the place is to avoid overcrowding and to lessen human intervention that may cause environmental destruction and/or pollution around the conservation area.
For instance, Boracay, one of the most famous beaches in the Philippines, has been suffering because of the influx of tourists. It is not, arguably, as clean and clear as it had been before due to the uncontrollable number of tourists in the spot.
COMMUNITY. Some of its tour guides are actually natives of Tanay, Rizal. For one, this provides them job. Two, the environment is well-taken cared of by these people, its inhabitants, who, first and foremost, have the heart to nurture and care to maintain the forest’s vigor and beauty. This, additionally, contributes to the locality’s sustainable development.
INTERPRETATION. The forest’s head managers had taken into consideration to employ knowledgeable staff who could relay valuable information to the visitors. Imparting knowledge and increasing environmental awareness give them, the visitors, something valuable to take home.
Visitors go through different “stations” during the trail experience of Masungi Georeserve. Through these, they are able to appreciate nature—not only its scenic beauty but also the very lives it caters to. Most importantly, they explore the 1500+ hectares of forest, dominantly limestone formations, all by themselves – allowing them time to meditate and unite with nature.
Recently, Masungi Georeserve has been receiving positive feedback especially from environmental groups. It has been praised for catering to an environmentally-responsible travel and for spreading environmental awareness to people. It has also combined the locals’ and the non-government members’ initiatives through which the landscape and wildlife continue to thrive in its finest beauty.
Indeed, valuing love of nature over capital profits pay more.
If you want to know more information about Masungi Georeserve, do visit their official website at http://www.masungigeoreserve.com/ or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/masungigeoreserve/
Our Awesome Planet. Masungi Georeserve: Secret Sanctuary in Tanay, Rizal. (February 2016). https://sararulloda.wordpress.com/2016/02/06/day-trip-masungi-georeserve-tanay/
The International Ecotourism Society. What is Ecotourism? Retrieved from https://www.ecotourism.org/what-is-ecotourism
By Loren Daryl R. Sarenas, ASEAN Correspondent from Philippines