Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 1731–1745 | Cite as

Demand for rubber is causing the loss of high diversity rain forest in SW China

  • Hongmei Li
  • T. Mitchell Aide
  • Youxin Ma
  • Wenjun Liu
  • Min Cao
Original Paper

Abstract

As the economies of developing countries grow, and the purchasing power of their inhabitants increases, the pressure on the environment and natural resources will continue to increase. In the specific case of China, impressive economic growth during the last decades exemplifies this process. Specifically, we focus on how changing economic dynamics are influencing land-use and land-cover change in Xishuangbanna, China. Xishuangbanna has the richest flora and fauna of China, but increasing demand for natural rubber and the expansion of rubber plantations is threatening this high-diversity region. We quantified land-use/land-cover change across Xishuangbanna using Landsat images from 1976, 1988, and 2003. The most obvious change was the decrease in forest cover and an increase in rubber plantations. In 1976, forests covered approximately 70% of Xishuangbanna, but by 2003 they covered less than 50%. Tropical seasonal rain forest was the forest type most affect by the expansion of rubber plantations, and a total of 139,576 ha was lost. The increase of rubber plantations below 800 m, shifted agricultural activities to higher elevations, which resulted in deforestation of mountain rain forest and subtropical evergreen broadleaf forest. Although these changes have affected the biodiversity and ecosystem services, we believe that long-term planning and monitoring can achieve a balance between economic and social needs of a growing population and the conservation of a highly diverse flora and fauna. Below 800 m , we recommend that no more rubber plantations be established, existing forest fragments should be protected, and riparian forests should be restored to connect fragments. Future rubber plantations should be established in the abandoned arable or shrublands at higher elevations, and tea or other crops should be planted in the understory to improve economic returns and reduce erosion.

Keywords

Biodiversity conservation Economic development  Land-use/land-cover change Rubber plantations Xishuangbanna 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Burgess SSO, Dawson TE (2004) The contribution of fog to the water relations of Sequoia sempervirens (D. Don): foliar uptake and prevention of dehydration. Plant, Cell Environ 27:1023–1034CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cao M, Zhang JH (1997) Tree species diversity of tropical forest vegetation in Xishuangbanna, SW China. Biodiv Conserv 6:995–1006CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cao M, Zhang JH, Feng ZL, Deng JW, Deng XB (1996) Tree species composition of a seasonal rain forest in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China. Trop Ecol 37:183–192Google Scholar
  4. Casson A (2003) Oil palm, soybeans & critical habitat loss. A review prepared for the WWF forest conversion initiative. Data set, Available on-line [http://www.questions.panda.org/downloads/forests/oilpalmsoybeanscriticalhabitatloss25august03.pdf]from the Coordination Office Hohlstrases 110 Hohlstrasse 110 CH–8010 Switzerland.
  5. Chandler W, Gwin H (2004) China’s energy and emissions: a turning point? Data set, Available on-line [http://www.pnl.gov/aisu/pubs/chandgwin.pdf ] from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington
  6. Edit committee of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture Difangzhi (2002) Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture zhouzhi. Xinhua Publishing House, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  7. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (2000) Global forest resources assessment 2000. Data set, Available on-line [http://www.fao.org/documents/show_cdr.asp?url_file=/DOCREP/004/Y1997E/y1997e06.htm]from FAO Forestry Paper 140, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, Italy
  8. Gao LS (1999) On the Dais’s traditional irrigation system and environmental protection in Xishuangbannna.Yunnan Nationality Press, KunmingGoogle Scholar
  9. Gong SX, Ling SH (1996) Fog decreasing in Xishuangbanna region. Meteorology 22:10–14Google Scholar
  10. Grau HR, Aide TM, Gasparri NI (2005a) Globalization and soybean expansion into semiarid ecosystems of Argentina. Ambio 34:265–266Google Scholar
  11. Grau HR, Gaspari NI, Aide TM (2005b) Agriculture expansion and deforestation in seasonally dry forests of north-west Argentina. Environ Conserv 32:140–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Guo HJ, Padoch PC, Coffey K, Chen AG, Fu YN (2002) Economic development, land use and biodiversity change in the tropical mountains of Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, Southwest China. Environ Sci Policy 5:471–479CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Guo YQ, Yang YM, Tang JS, Chen SW, Lei FG, Wang JH, Yang ZH, Yang GZ (1987). The vegetation in the natural reserves of Xishuangbanna. In: Xu YC, Jiang HQ, Quan F (eds) Proceedings of synthetical investigation of Xishuangbanna nature research. Yunnan Science and Technology Press, Kunming, pp. 88–169Google Scholar
  14. Huang YR, Huang YS, Li ZH, Cheng BJ (2000). The influence of ecoenvironmental variation on fog. Sci Meteorol Sin 20:129–135Google Scholar
  15. Li JL, Zhang YH (2004) Forecast for natural rubber consumption in China. Technoecon Manage Res 2:55–56Google Scholar
  16. Liu WJ, Zhang YP, Liu YH, Li HM, Duang WP (2003) Comparison of fog interception at a tropical seasonal rain forest and a rubber plantations in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China. Acta Ecol Sin 23:2379–2386Google Scholar
  17. Liu WJ, Meng FR, Zhang YP, Liu YH, Li HM (2004) Water input from fog drip in the tropical seasonal rain forest of Xishaungbanna, South-West China. J Trop Ecol 20:517–524CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Myers N, Mittermeier RA, Mittermeier CG, da Fonseca GAB, Kent J (2000) Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403:853–858CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Schroth G, Coutinho P, Moraes VHF, Albernaz AL (2003) Rubber agroforests at the Tapajos river, Brazilian Amazon—environmentally benign land use systems in old forest frontier region. Agricult, Ecosyst Environ 97:151–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sinton JE, Stern RE, Aden NT, Levine MD, Dillavou TJ, Fridley DG, Huang J, Lewis JI, Lin J, McKane AT, Price LK, Wiser RH, Zhou N, Ku J (2005) Evaluation of China’s energy strategy options. Data set, Available on-line [http://www.china.lbl.gov/publications/nesp.pdf] from Prepared for and with the support of the China Sustainable Energy Program
  21. Tuan FC, Fang C, Cao Z (2004) China’s soybean imports expected to grow despite short-term disruptions. Data set, Available on-line [http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/OCS/Oct04/OCS04J01/ocs04j01.pdf] from Report OCS-04J-01, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service
  22. Wang HH, Ma WJ, Deng ZZ (1982) The relationship between exploitation of tropical rain forest and water, soil conservation. Sci Silvae Sin 18:245–257Google Scholar
  23. Wang ZJ, Young SS (2003) Differences in bird diversity between two swidden agricultural sites in mountainous terrain, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China. Biol Conserv 110:231–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wong J, Chan S (2003) Why China’s economy can sustain high performance: an analysis of its sources of growth. Data set, Available on-line [http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/pdf/research/asia/economy%20can%20sustain%20chan.pdf] from Asia Programme Working Paper, No.6. Asia programme Royal Institute of International Affairs
  25. Wu ZY, Zhu Y, Jiang H (1987) The vegetation of Yunnan. Science Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  26. Xie JW (1989) Study on the productivity of an artificial rubber-tea community in tropical China. Ms. Thesis, Kunming Ecological Institute, Chinese Academy of SciencesGoogle Scholar
  27. Xu ZF (2004) Approach on ecological effects of Asian elephants isolated from the distribution of bamboo-wild banana and its conservation strategy. Chinese J Ecol 23:131–134Google Scholar
  28. Yang L, Pan LR, Wang SZ (1985) Inverstation of bird in tea garden and rubble plantations in Xishaungbanna. Zool Res 6:353–360Google Scholar
  29. Yin XQ (2001) Summary for forum of eco-environment protection and control & sustainable development. Commun Ecol Econ 125:10–16Google Scholar
  30. Zhang JH, Cao M (1995) Tropical forest vegetation of Xishuangbanna, SW China and its secondary changes, with special reference to some problems in local nature conservation. Biol Conserv 73:229–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Zhang KY (1988) The climatic dividing line between SW and SE monsoons and their differences in climatology and ecology in Yunnan Province of China. Climatol Notes 38:197–207Google Scholar
  32. Zhang YP, Zhang KY, Ma YX, Liu YH, Liu WJ (1997) Runoff characteristics of different vegetation covers in tropical region of Xishuangbanna, Yunnan. J Soil Erosion Soil Water Conserv 3:25–30Google Scholar
  33. Zhu H (1997) Ecological and biogeographical studies on the tropical rain forest of south Yunnan, SW China with a special reference to its relation with rain forests of tropical Asia. J Biogeogr 24:647–662Google Scholar
  34. Zhu H, Xu ZF, Wang H, Li BG (2004) Tropical rain forest fragmentation and its ecological and species diversity change in Southern Yunnan. Biodiv Conserv 13:1355–1372CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hongmei Li
    • 1
  • T. Mitchell Aide
    • 2
  • Youxin Ma
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Wenjun Liu
    • 1
  • Min Cao
    • 1
  1. 1.Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesKunmingPR China
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of Puerto RicoSan JuanUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Applied EcologyChinese Academy of SciencesShenyangPR China
  4. 4.Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPR China

Personalised recommendations