How Do “Renewable Products” Impact Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services – The Example of Natural Rubber in China

Marc Cotter, Konrad Martin, Joachim Sauerborn


This paper aims to present the implications brought by the expansion of “renewable products” plantation systems in the tropics with cultivation of rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) as a main focus. Throughout South East Asia, natural forest is being replaced by rubber or oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) plantations, with severe consequences for the local flora and fauna. Main aspects of this review are: i) The provision of an overview over renewable resources in general and rubber in particular, with eco-physiological and agronomical information concerning rubber cultivation. ii) The effect of rubber plantations on biodiversity and species composition under different rubber farming approaches. In addition we debate the possible influences of such large scale land cover transformations on ecosystem services. iii) The conversion of natural forests into rubber plantations releases considerable amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We estimated these values for different land cover types in southern China and assessed the carbon sequestration potential of local rubber plantations.


biodiversity; renewable products; rubber; ecosystem services; carbon sequestration; ecophysiology

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