China Sacrifices Rain Forests in Yunnan Province to Produce More Rubber

From Reuters via International Herald Tribune:

On a map on the ecologist Liu Wenjie’s computer, the subtropical southern tip of Province is slowly turning from green to red.

plantations, shown in red on Liu’s computer screen, have supplanted nearly all the low-lying forest in the prefecture of Xishuangbanna and are now starting to encroach on the highlands.

Liu and other scientists are worried that the expansion of rubber plantations to feed China’s voracious tire industry, the world’s largest, will destroy the ecosystem of Xishuangbanna. Yunnan Province is home to China’s richest variety of flora and fauna.

Three decades ago, jungles and high mountain forests covered about 70 percent of Xishuangbanna, tucked between China’s borders with Laos and Myanmar. By 2003, that proportion had shrunk to less than 50 percent.

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