There are 28 countries worldwide that produce natural rubber. The most distinct characteristic they share is a tropical climate. Tropical climates with consistent temperatures around 25-30 degrees and rainfall of 200 cm support healthy rubber trees.
Countries with this ideal equatorial climate that produce natural rubber are found primarily in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia. For decades, Thailand has been the world’s biggest producer of rubber, growing 35% of the world’s natural rubber supply in 2019.
The top five countries that produced the most rubber in 2019 are Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, India and China.
Major Environmental Issues faced by them are:
1. Deforestation: Growing Natural rubber is the leading cause of deforestation in mainland Southeast Asia.
2. Biodiversity loss: Rubber is grown by deforestation of equatorial vegetation which are known for their Species biodiversity.
3. Climate change: Deforestation of equatorial vegetation which are known as lungs of the forest will affect the carbon sequestration and this accentuated the rate of Global warming.
4. Diseases: Rubber being a monoculture plantation, is highly vulnerable to pest attacks and diseases.
5. Man- animal conflicts: Monkey-Human conflict in Tripura because of deforestation of land for rubber plantations
6. Cases of stealing of land from Indigenous communities.
7. Pollution: Sulphates are released from latex processing facilities. (Latex is extracted from rubber trees).
The best way to ensure more responsible production of natural rubber is to grow trees for rubber production on low-quality, degraded land instead of clearing high-quality natural forests to plant them. WWF’s goal is to have the majority of companies that produce and use rubber commit to sustainably and ethically produced rubber. In particular, this would include car manufacturers, tire makers, and rubber processors.