In the Media
Corn, rubber plantations pose environmental threats in Laos
October 20, 2011
Many people in Laos are earning high incomes from corn and rubber plantations but these crops can cause serious negative impacts on the environment, according to a new study. Lao researchers presented the economic valuation of ecosystem services on land use change on non-timber forest products collection, upland rice farming and corn and rubber plantations at a workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, on October 11 to 12.
The results of the study highlight the costs and benefits of different land use systems in Oudomxay province, including rubber plantations in Namor district, corn plantations and upland rice farms in Hun district, and non-timber forest product collection in Beng district.
According to the study, collection of non-timber forest products and upland rice farming provide the least financial returns and, while they cannot be considered as viable poverty reduction strategies, they do maintain a healthy environment that can provide for basic food and livelihood needs. Corn and rubber plantations, on the other hand, generate relatively higher incomes and can be considered as potentially effective poverty reduction strategies.
However, the latter two land uses also cause substantive environmental and local health problems that might persist long into the future.
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Keywords: Asia, corn, income, Lao PDR, Laos, non timber, NTFP, NWFP, plantation, rubber