Rubber's inclusion in zero‐deforestation legislation is necessary but not sufficient to reduce impacts on biodiversity

Warren-Thomas, E., Ahrends, A., Wang, Y., Wang, M., & Jones, J. (2023). Rubber's inclusion in zero‐deforestation legislation is necessary but not sufficient to reduce impacts on biodiversity. Conservation Letters e12967. 10.1111/conl.12967.

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Agricultural commodity production is a major driver of tropical deforestation and biodiversity loss. Natural rubber from Hevea brasiliensis, a valuable commodity without viable substitutes, has recently been included in the European Union (EU) deforestation regulation that aims to halt imports of goods containing embedded deforestation. Sustained growth in demand for rubber is driven by increasing tire production, caused by rising transport flows and personal car ownership. We show that average natural rubber yields remain static, meaning 2.7–5.3 million ha of additional plantations could be needed by 2030 to meet demand. A systematic literature search identified 106 case studies concerning transitions to and from rubber, revealing that substantial rubber plantation area expansion since 2010 has occurred at the expense of natural forest. Eliminating deforestation from rubber supply chains requires support for millions of smallholder growers to maintain or increase production from existing plantations, without land or water degradation. Supply chain traceability efforts offer opportunities to deliver such support. While the inclusion of rubber in EU legislation is a positive step, it is critical to ensure that smallholders are not marginalized to avoid exacerbating poverty, and that other markets follow suit to avoid displacement of rubber-driven deforestation to unregulated markets.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: biodiversity; climate change; disease; smallholder; supply chain; sustainability; swidden; tropical forest
Research Programs: Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR)
Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR) > Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation (BEC)
Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR) > Integrated Biosphere Futures (IBF)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2023 14:26
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2023 12:07

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