Protecting tropical forests from the rapid expansion of rubber using carbon payments

Eleanor Warren-Thomas (Lead Author), David Edwards, Daniel Bebber, Phourin Chhang, Alex Diment, Tom Evans, Frances Lambrick, James F. Maxwell, Menghor Nut, Hannah O'Kelly, Ida Theilade, Paul Dolman

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Abstract

Expansion of Hevea brasiliensis rubber plantations is a resurgent driver of deforestation, carbon emissions and biodiversity loss in Southeast Asia. Southeast Asian rubber extent is massive, equivalent to 67% of oil palm, with rapid further expansion predicted. Results-based carbon finance could dis-incentivise forest conversion to rubber, but efficacy will be limited unless payments match, or at least approach, the costs of avoided deforestation. These include opportunity costs (timber and rubber profits), plus carbon finance scheme setup (transaction) and implementation costs. Using comprehensive Cambodian forest data, and exploring scenarios of selective logging and conversion, we find that carbon prices of $30-$51 tCO2-1 are needed to break even against costs; higher than those currently paid on carbon markets or through carbon funds. To defend forests from rubber, either carbon prices must be increased, or other strategies are needed, such as corporate zero-deforestation pledges, and governmental regulation and enforcement of forest protection.
Original languageEnglish
Article number911
JournalNature Communications
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2018

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