The Political, Social, and Ecological Transformation of a Landscape
In 1951 the Chinese Government issued the Decision on Cultivating Rubber Trees, which resulted in the establishment of large-scale rubber plantations in the tropical regions of China, including Xishuangbanna in southern Yunnan. These rubber plantations, worked by relocated Han Chinese, were a manifestation of state power on the landscape.
Research Goals & Methods
This article is based on 20 years of working and visiting locals and government agencies, extensive household interviews, and policy dialogues on land use change among researchers, local farmers and government officials.
Conclusions & Takeaways
The rubber plantations served the state interest of transforming China into a self-sustaining socialist society and controlling the diverse Xishuangbanna landscape. The plantations require intensive labor inputs and conversion of forest to rubber plantations, and conversion meant changing traditional indigenous mosaic land-use practices into large-scale rubber farms. However, these diverse land-use practices may be the most ecologically appropriate and culturally suitable means of promoting sustainable local economies and livelihoods, especially in mountain areas.
The Political, Social, and Ecological Transformation of a Landscape. Mountain Research and Development. 2006;26:254–262. doi:10.1659/0276-4741(2006)26[254:tpsaet]2.0.co;2..
- Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences