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Mount Isarog


Conservation benefit: Protection of 783 acres of watershed for 20 years

Community benefit: Training and facilities for alternative livelihoods

Date Approved: 06.2019


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

In southeastern Luzon Island, Mount Isarog—a dormant 6,600-foot volcano—towers over one of the Philippines’ key biodiversity areas. The 783-acre Anayan-Rumangrap Watershed supplies water to 15 towns (including Naga City, which has a population of almost 200,000) and irrigates some 167,000 acres of rice fields.

More than 1300 species of plants are found there, including Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world. The area is home to many endemic species of birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. Mount Isarog supports the only known populations of several species of shrew-mouse and shrew-rat.

This bountiful ecosystem faces a continuing threat, however. Years ago, a group of people illegally moved into the protected forest, where they cut trees to make charcoal and plant crops. The Metro Naga Water District (MNWD) worked for years to convince them to move out. The last ones left in 2015, moving just beyond the park boundaries.

Some members of the relocated community have organized themselves as forest wardens and regularly patrol the watershed. (There are no rangers.) But poverty has recently driven some in the community to cut trees in the watershed.

The MNWD wants to protect the watershed by helping the relocated families pursue sustainable livelihoods. It will offer trainings in organic farming, agroforestry and in guiding tourists. These ventures have great promise in this area, which is just an hour from Naga City. In addition, more tourism will increase patrols, because the forest wardens will guide more groups.

This grant will fund construction of a nursery/greenhouse and shared service facility and repairs of houses for homestay visits. It will also provide business training for people who want to start microbusinesses, such as selling crafts or raising mushrooms. After training, participants will receive seed capital for their new enterprises.

Project Updates

June 2020

Farmers planted 550 cacao seedlings and 250 coconut seedlings in February, after attending training on how to grow these crops. Our nonprofit partner hired local skilled workers and laborers to build the alternative livelihood facility and greenhouse, but in mid-March, COVID-19 quarantine restrictions stopped the delivery of materials. When construction stopped, the greenhouse was about 90% complete; the other building was less than half done. Work was tentatively scheduled to start again in May, if materials were available. The Mt. Isarog Guardians have kept up their maintenance and protection of the watershed, strictly observing physical distancing.

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January 2020

In October, the Metropolitan Naga Water District coordinated with local government units to obtain materials for livelihood training, including seedlings and training on growing cacao. Students from Bicol State College of Applied Sciences and Technology visited community members and then came up with designs, using indigenous materials, that the residents could use to upgrade their houses to make them suitable for homestay businesses. Our nonprofit partner is pricing materials for the new building.

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