High-resolution maps show that rubber causes substantial deforestation

Wang, Y., Hollingsworth, P.M., Zhai, D., West, C., Green, J., Chen, H., Hurni, K., Su, Y., et al. (2023). High-resolution maps show that rubber causes substantial deforestation. Nature 10.1038/s41586-023-06642-z.

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Understanding the effects of cash crop expansion on natural forest is of fundamental importance. However, for most crops there are no remotely sensed global maps1, and global deforestation impacts are estimated using models and extrapolations. Natural rubber is an example of a principal commodity for which deforestation impacts have been highly uncertain, with estimates differing more than fivefold1,2,3,4. Here we harnessed Earth observation satellite data and cloud computing5 to produce high-resolution maps of rubber (10 m pixel size) and associated deforestation (30 m pixel size) for Southeast Asia. Our maps indicate that rubber-related forest loss has been substantially underestimated in policy, by the public and in recent reports6,7,8. Our direct remotely sensed observations show that deforestation for rubber is at least twofold to threefold higher than suggested by figures now widely used for setting policy4. With more than 4 million hectares of forest loss for rubber since 1993 (at least 2 million hectares since 2000) and more than 1 million hectares of rubber plantations established in Key Biodiversity Areas, the effects of rubber on biodiversity and ecosystem services in Southeast Asia could be extensive. Thus, rubber deserves more attention in domestic policy, within trade agreements and in incoming due-diligence legislation.

Item Type: Article
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: 19 Oct 2023 12:09
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2023 12:09
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/19136

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