The Rubber Juggernaut

Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117570.
Science (Impact Factor: 33.61). 06/2009; 324(5930):1024-5. DOI: 10.1126/science.1173833
Source: PubMed
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Available from: Jefferson Metz Fox, Feb 04, 2016
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    • "More than 500,000 hectares, may have already been converted to rubber plantations in the uplands of China, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar[[17]. While there was a huge expansion of rubber in southern Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia in the 1970s and 1980s, most recently rubber planting has mainly targeted previously peripheral and remote parts of the region, such as rural and upland areas in China, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos[12][18][20]. According to the International Rubber Study Group, the annual production for 2014 in SE Asia stood at 11,183,000 tons for a world average of 12,070,000 tons[21], Figure 2. According to this study, world demand for natural rubber is forecast to increase by 3.1% in 2015 under the IMF Scenario and by 4.4% in 2016[21]. "
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper, we aimed at examining the role of natural rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) cultivation as a source of income for rural communities as well as a potential source of ecological damage. We reviewed existing scientific literature and data sources on natural rubber cultivation particularly in south East Asia. We observed that, the latex from the lower part of the trunk has a high commercial value which can assist rural communities in socioeconomic development; the trunk is a source of timber and wood while its branches are now being used for firewood and pegs. We also found out that, rubber cultivation harms watersheds and destroys tropical forest ecosystems. Nevertheless, the cultivation and establishment of rubber plantations would have a very positive socioecological impact with adequate and effective management and proper sustainable planning as well as an involvement of rural communities in the decision making process.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Open Access Library Journal
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    • "The expansion of rubber cultivation in Laos, especially in large-scale concession and contract farming schemes, has transformed local agro-forestry systems considerably, by facilitating a rapid conversion of extensively used forest lands to intensive monocultural plantations with detrimental effects for the local people living in the area (Thongmanivong et al., 2009;Baird, 2010;Kenney-Lazar, 2012;Li & Fox, 2012;Fox & Castella, 2013). Furthermore, the widespread conversion of uplands—consisting of mosaics of cultivated land, bush fallow and patches of forest—to rubber plantations in Laos and across Southeast Asia has severe impacts on environmental and ecosystem functions (Mann, 2009;Ziegler et al., 2009b;GuardiolaClaramonte et al., 2010a;Li & Fox, 2012). This paper explores the implications of a large-scale rubber plantation in northern Laos. "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper investigates the direct and cascading land system consequences of a Chinese company's land acquisition for rubber cultivation in northern Laos. Transnational land acquisitions are increasingly acknowledged as an important driver of direct land use conversion with implications for local land-based livelihoods. The paper presents an empirical case study of the village of Na Nhang Neua in Nambak District, Luang Prabang Province, using a mixed methods approach to investigate the positive and negative implications for household agricultural strategies, income generation and food security. Combining the conceptual lenses of land systems and livelihood approaches, this paper demonstrates how the land use system has changed substantially because of the establishment of the rubber plantation by the company, notably in the linkages between livestock rearing, upland shifting cultivation and lowland paddy rice cultivation. The changes go beyond the immediate competition for land caused by the rubber plantation: a penalty scheme introduced by the rubber company for damage to rubber trees caused by browsing animals has led the villagers to abandon livestock rearing, causing a cascade of negative effects on the entire land use system, especially on soil fertility, rice yields and food production.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography
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    • "Xishuangbanna (Li et al. 2007; Ziegler et al. 2009). Rubber plantations are a very poor habitat for orchids, and only 3 terrestrial species, Zeuxine nervosa, Liparis barbata, and Crepidium purpureum, were occasionally found in them. "
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    ABSTRACT: Xishuangbanna is on the northern margins of tropical Asia in southwestern China and has the largest area of tropical forest remaining in the country. It is in the Indo-Burma hotspot and contains 16% of China's vascular flora in <0.2% of the country's total area (19,690 km(2) ). Rapid expansion of monoculture crops in the last 20 years, particularly rubber, threatens this region's exceptional biodiversity. To understand the effects of land-use change and collection on orchid species diversity and determine protection priorities, we conducted systematic field surveys, observed markets, interviewed orchid collectors, and then determined the conservation status of all orchids. We identified 426 orchid species in 115 genera in Xishuangbanna: 31% of all orchid species that occur in China. Species richness was highest at 1000-1200 m elevation. Three orchid species were assessed as possibly extinct in the wild, 15 as critically endangered, 82 as endangered, 124 as vulnerable, 186 as least concern, and 16 as data deficient. Declines over 20 years in harvested species suggested over-collection was the major threat, and utility value (i.e., medicinal or ornamental value) was significantly related to endangerment. Expansion of rubber tree plantations was less of a threat to orchids than to other taxa because only 75 orchid species (17.6%) occurred below the 1000-m-elevation ceiling for rubber cultivation, and most of these (46) occurred in nature reserves. However, climate change is projected to lift this ceiling to around 1300 m by 2050, and the limited area at higher elevations reduces the potential for upslope range expansion. The Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden is committed to achieving zero plant extinctions in Xishuangbanna, and orchids are a high priority. Appropriate in and ex situ conservation strategies, including new protected areas and seed banking, have been developed for every threatened orchid species and are being implemented.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Conservation Biology
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