What are the impacts of rubber farming in Southeast Asia?
Farming rubber sustainably is complex and expensive, and requires an overhaul of traditional farming practices. Deforestation has historically been driven by high rubber prices, which is why it is critical that farmers increase yield to ensure that, when prices rise again, increased rubber production does not come at a cost for forests. Unsustainably-managed rubber plantations can create severe air pollution if, to clear land quickly and cheaply, it is slashed and burned, which has a major impact on forest flora and fauna. Due to the heavy use of herbicides to clear the land to manage the risk of snake bites, animal species that depend on the destroyed plants quickly succumb too. Furthermore, rain erodes the exposed earth, deteriorating the soil quality and exacerbating crop growth problems. Rubber trees are susceptible to blight. Scientists have cautioned that a single spore of South American leaf blight reaching Southeast Asia could wipe out a substantial portion of the industry.