The objective of this website is to provide basic information on why ecologically sustainable practices are important, inform interested stakeholders about some ecological standards that are available and give a simplistic picture of the process of eco-certification for rubber and rubber products.
For over a century, farmers in South India have grown the Hevea brasiliensis tree for rubber. As the core raw material for many industrial and domestic products such as tyres, sports goods and footwear, condoms, gloves, etc., current market demand and prices for latex are at an all-time high. It is well known that production in many traditional rubber growing areas have reached a stable maxima in the recent years.
Although rubber plantations are a major driver of the local economy and employ a large workforce, the large-scale conversion of a multi-species complex forest ecosystem to a simple monoculture ecosystem results in the loss or degradation of many ecological services. A large proportion of the rubber plantations in southern India are located in the biodiversity rich Western Ghats that are key watersheds for rivers and streams supplying to the estates, human settlements and industries in the plains. In addition, these hotspots are home to several endemic and endangered flora and fauna, which without the active participation and involvement of all stakeholders in their conservation will be lost forever. Soil erosion resulting in reduced soil fertility is another problem that could result from rubber monocultures impacting the future of the not only the rubber crops. Also, without the agricultural security that comes from a diverse mix of species and crops, these monoculture plantations are vulnerable to disease or other stressors — ultimately threatening themselves.
Managing such land uses in an ecological and sustainable way will not only protect the present and future livelihoods of plantation owners and workers who count on healthy and stable rubber yields in the long-term, but also protect our natural treasures and resources.