Our consumption of rubber is leading to Asian deforestation

GallonDaily has written about how demand for palm oil is leading to tropical deforestation but now researchers from the University of East Anglia and the University of Sheffield are pointing out that increasing demand for natural rubber, primarily for tires, is contributing to major loss of Asian forests. Among their key findings:

  • more than 2 million hectares of industrial-scale and smallholder monoculture rubber plantations have been established during the last decade, primarily in mainland Southeast Asia and Southwest China.
  • between 4.3 and 8.5 million hectares of additional rubber plantations will likely be required to meet projected demand for natural rubber by 2024, threatening significant areas of Asian forest, including many protected areas.
  • some of the problem arises from potential displacement of rubber from existing plantations by more profitable oil palm.
  • conversion of forests or swidden (temporary) agriculture to monoculture rubber negatively impacts bird, bat and invertebrate biodiversity.
  • work is urgently needed to ensure rigorous biodiversity and social standards via the development of a sustainability initiative.

An abstract and the full 9 page article can be found in the journal Conservation Letters: A journal of the Society for Conservation Biology at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/conl.12170/abstract

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