Rubber plantations could have 'devastating' impact in Asia

The expansion of rubber plantations in southeast Asia could have a "devastating" environmental impact, scientists warned Thursday as they pressed for a substantial increase in forest preserves.

More than 500,000 hectares (1.2 million acres) may have already been converted to rubber plantations in the uplands of China, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

And researchers predict the area of land dedicated to rubber and other farming systems could more than double or triple by 2050, replacing lands currently occupied by evergreen broadleaf trees and secondary vegetation growing in areas subjected to slash-and-burn farming.

That could result in a significant reduction in carbon biomass, dessicate the region's water systems, and increase the risk of landslides through erosion, researchers from China, Singapore and the US warned in an essay in the journal Science.

"The unrestricted expansion of rubber in montane mainland southeast Asia could have devastating environmental effects," wrote lead author Alan Ziegler of the National University of Singapore.

Ziegel and his colleagues warned "time is too short" to wait for results from studies aimed providing reliable assessments of the impact on water systems.

"A substantial increase in natural reserve areas could help to reduce the threats to and carbon stocks," they wrote.

The authors also suggested promoting "diversified agroforestry systems in which cash crops such as rubber and play important roles, but are not planted as monocultures."

(c) 2009 AFP

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May 21, 2009
Are there any glue factories nearby?

May 21, 2009
Interesting. Western colonials were the ones who established these plantation and exploited the native environment in the first place. Now they are asking the exploited to save the environment (and thus their own asses in the long run). Why don't they put their ill-gotten riches over the past 2 centuries to the cause? I doubt it. The sun will rise in the west before it happen! Such is the stupid state of affairs on this mudball. I can't wait for the next 50 mile wide comet to wipe this mess out.

May 25, 2009
Most of these pleas to save forests involve 2 issues:
1) preventing the local from reaching the same standard of living that is enjoyed in the countries protesting the activity by placing local resources off-limits to development.
2) some scheme to transfer wealth to these countries, or at least the governments and wealthy of those countries, and placing those people on to a kind of international welfare program which will be under the control of outside nations.

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