Although rubber was first introduced to Asia in the late 19th century, there has been a recent massive expansion of monoculture plantations across the Indo-China region driven largely by increasing demand for natural latex from China. Huge swaths of formerly multiuse landscapes and natural forests have been replaced by monoculture with predictable consequences for biodiversity and ecosystem services. Moreover, although rubber has been a path-out-of-poverty for many smallholders, there have also been severe social consequences with widespread reports of land-grabbing and coercion. Reduced access to non-timber forest products and economic dependence on a single commodity have also left many farmers impoverished whenever rubber prices drop.
Recognising these threats to the sustainability of rubber cultivation in the region and elsewhere, the Sustainable Rubber Platform was established with a view to promoting the development of socially responsible and environmentally friendly practices across the industry. Its purpose is to serve as a repository of information and to facilitate communication among researchers, government and non-government agencies, policy makers and rubber producers and consumers.