Environment Cluster Seminar: Rubber and Land-cover and Land-use Change in Mainland Southeast Asia, 17 Jan, National University of Singapore (NUS)

The mountainous region of mainland Southeast Asia (MMSEA) harbors a wealth of natural resources, including globally important forests, multiple plant and animal species, and the headwaters of major rivers. For centuries, farmers in this region practiced diverse systems of shifting cultivation that produced a unique landscape mosaic combining small agricultural plots with secondary forests. Over the last few decades national policies have driven the expansion and upgrading of road, electricity, and telecommunication networks, and the commoditization of agriculture. Attracted by the opportunity to convert traditional farming areas into high-value commercial operations, outside entrepreneurs, corporations, and governments have sought to gain control of land in the region through schemes ranging from joint ventures with local farmers to outright dispossession. Some farmers have enhanced their income by switching to the intensive production of cash crops. Others have been forced into contracts with unfavorable terms or have lost their land entirely. While more intense agricultural production may pose a threat to fragile local environments, it is not possible to turn back the clock. Rubber plantations, in particular, have proven highly profitable. This talk will review findings from a recent NASA funded project that mapped land-cover change in MMSEA more accurately than had been previously accomplished. The presentation will also discuss land, income and labor implications of these changes at study sites in Northeast Cambodia and Southern Laos. Finally, the talk will discuss potential implications of the fall in rubber prices for land-cover change.

Speaker: Dr Jefferson Fox, The East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: 17 January 2017 (Tuesday)
Time: 4 – 6pm
Address: Earth Lab, Geography Department, Block AS2 (02-03/04), Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, NUS Kent Ridge Campus, Singapore
For more information, you may contact Clare at fass.environment@nus.edu.sg or 6601 2306.

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