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Rubber Analogue Agroforestry System 

Rubber is considered a strategic crop in China with Hainan and Xishuangbanna of Yunnan Province being its largest local production bases. Almost every rural household in Hainan depends on rubber as the major income source and it is the most successful poverty alleviation programme locally. Extensive natural forests were cleared to establish mono-crop rubber plantations, herbicides are heavily used to clear vegetation, polluting the water sources and reducing biodiversity. The lack of ground cover also reduced soil organic matter and its water retention capacity, further reducing the ecosystem services provided by rubber plantations; this ongoing practice poses a major threat to the ecosystem health of protected areas.

Rubber plantations (light green-shaded vegetation) behind the Miao village of Hainan’s Qingsong Township are adjacent to the Hainan Gibbon habitat. Monoculture rubber occupies 16% of Hainan’s land area, posing a major threat to the island’s ecosystems. Diversifying plantations using analogue agroforestry that mimics the multi-layer structure of natural forest reduces the negative impact. More info.

One approach is to intensify rubber plantations with agro-forestry system that mimic the multi-storey structure of natural forest. This improves the ecosystem services and increase income that curtails the further expansion of rubber plantations. Together with our partner nature reserves in Hainan, Kadoorie Conservation China Department promotes the planting of shade-tolerant and economically viable native herbs such as bitter cardamom (Alpinia oxyphylla) and dumpling leaf (Phrynium hainanense) as understorey crops in existing rubber fields. We also integrate the planting of high-value native trees particularly rosewood (Dalbergia odorifera) and agarwood (Aquilaria sinensis). In addition to income improvement, the introduction of rubber agroforestry increases crop diversity and land use efficiency, prevents soil erosion, accumulates carbon that improves soil fertility and soil moisture retention, deters the use of herbicides and improves biodiversity.

Understorey crops cardamom and dumpling leaves intercropping with rubber in the analogue agroforestry can diversify income sources to farmers and biodiversity of the agro-ecosystem

The beneficiaries of our rubber analogue agroforestry programme


Read more:

1. Farmers Joined Hands in Conserving the Hainan Gibbon

2. Planting Medicinal Plant Under Rubber in Qingsong, Bawanling, Hainan