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Lobo Municipality


Conservation benefit: Protection of 118 acres of forest for 10 years, support of three fish reserves (78 acres total)

Community benefit: Solar-powered visitors center, guest huts, and gear for ecotourism initiative

Date Approved: 06.2018


This project supports a local conservation-based tourism initiative.


This project protects forest, preventing the release of greenhouse gases and reducing erosion that damages coastal and ocean ecosystems.


This project protects ocean ecosystems, making coastal communities more economically and physically secure in the face of climate change.

The central Philippines, where the narrow Verde Island Passage separates the islands of Luzon and Mindoro, is home to huge numbers of fish species, whale sharks, several kinds of sea turtles, and an enormous variety of corals. But precisely because so many endemic species are concentrated in such a small area, habitat destruction there would be disastrous.

Lobo Municipality, which borders the Verde Island Passage, will protect 118 acres of forest that drain into the passage. The forest, dominated by tropical hardwoods, is home to the Philippine long-tailed macaque and wild boar. The community will also continue to support three local fish sanctuaries, Sawang, Malabrigo, and Biga. Many people in the village are fish wardens, who help enforce the restrictions.

The community will use Seacology’s help to foster ecotourism based on the spectacular Nalayag peaks of nearby Mt. Masalakot. The community will build a solar-powered visitors center and improve the Nalayag Ecotrail with guardrails and a campsite with huts and restrooms. Community members will train as guides. About 1,100 visitors went to Mt. Nalayag last year; the target is to increase this number to 7,600, being careful not to overwhelm the trails and campsites. The community will impose a daily limit on the number of hikers, and will close the trail each Monday.

Bantay Kalikasan and the Lobo Municipal Tourism Office will provide guide training for community members, many of whom now make a living by fishing. The new guides will have a way to support themselves without fishing, reducing pressure on fish stocks. They will also be deputized as forest rangers and will be on the lookout for illegal clearing of trees.

Project Updates

December 2022

Seacology representatives visited this month and hiked the trail with local guides and staff from the ABS-CBN foundation. About 70 members of the community are involved in the ecotourism initiative, working as trail guides and in the welcome center. As pandemic-related restrictions ease, the community is planning to restart the nursery and resume planting native trees along the trail.

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June 2022

After a very tough two years (pandemic, travel lockdowns that devastated tourism, and several severe typhoons), the community has achieved impressive results. One big improvement was the addition of a restroom, built by community members, to the visitors center. Construction of stairs and handrails on the Mt. Nalayag Monolith began in February. Community members had to carry the materials to the monolith, several hours away. Our partner says that people “were so empowered that they did not feel tired to walk hours back and forth to transport all of the fabricated materials.” Before the Mt. Nalayag trail reopens, guides will get a refresher course on first aid, tour guiding, marketing, and other topics.

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February 2022

The local government finally gave approval to build stairs and handrails on the Mt. Nalayag Monolith—the biggest tourist attraction of the area—and construction was scheduled to start in January 2022. Reopening of the Mt. Nalayag Monolith Eco-trail is scheduled for the end of March.

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February 2021

As if the pandemic were not bad enough, two typhoons hit the area back-to-back in November 2020, knocking out power for weeks. Despite these obstacles, our partners have managed to deliver two-way radios, cooking gear, and first-aid kits to the community, anticipating the return of tourism in 2021. They do not yet have permission to build handrails along the eco-trail.

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May 2020

The travel ban instituted in response to the covid-19 pandemic has had a big effect on tourism—and incomes—in Lobo. Most activities are on hold. (Some members of our nonprofit partner live within walking distance of the plant nursery, so they can still look after the seedlings.) People have turned to backyard farming to grow food, and have received some aid from the national and local governments. Bantay Kalikasan, the organization founded by late activist and Seacology Prize recipient Gina Lopez, is also expected to give money to buy food and household staples.
Looking ahead, the community is planning for two years of impact from the pandemic. They are discussing options for attracting tourists again by instituting physical distancing and by working with other tourist sites to build exciting trips. They are also exploring ways to diversify their sources of income.

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December 2019

The Lobo community came together to conserve their forest, pursue ecologically sustainable tourism, and provide good livelihoods to their members. This project exemplifies Seacology’s goal of empowering local people to control and protect their environment and, as a result, prosper economically. Community members and tourists (supervised by the mountain guides) have planted about 2,000 endemic tree seedlings.

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May 2019

The visitors center has been built; guardrails, nipa huts, and restrooms are still under construction. Tour guides are using the center to teach hikers about keeping the Nalayag Ecotrail healthy, and community members sell snacks there. The new local people’s organization, which works to promote tourism and protect the environment, also holds its meetings there. They have declared Monday a “rest day” for the mountain; no climbers are allowed, and the guides do a weekly survey and clean-up.

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December 2018

Duane Silverstein and field representative Ferdie Marcelo visited this project site and saw the partially built visitors’ center. Duane talked to one trail guide—a former miner—who now earns as much money leading one group of hikers on the trail as he did working 12 hours in the mine.

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