Target: Bridgestone CEO Masaaki Tsuya, Michelin CEO Jean-Dominique Senard, Goodyear CEO Richard J. Kramer
Goal: Demand major tire companies make rubber manufacturing more environmentally friendly.
Protected forests in Southeast Asia face a grave threat from the rubber industry, which continues to clear forests across the area and put endangered and threatened species at risk of severe habitat loss. Tire manufacturers account for 70 percent of all natural rubber produced, making these companies responsible for the methods used to procure their cash crop material. Urge the top three tire manufacturers to implement certification standards for the rubber industry to ensure the threatened species and biodiversity of Southeast Asian forests are protected.
Researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) warn that to meet the projected rubber demand for 2024, the industry will need to consume between 4.3 and 8.5 million hectares of tropical forest to create rubber tree plantations, threatening even protected areas. Within mainland Southeast Asia, rubber dominates the industry as the most quickly expanding tree crop, creating growing concern for the region’s biodiversity. Such widespread plantations can also harm soil, water and wildlife. In fact, the effects of rubber plantations on biodiversity and endangered species were found to be comparable to that of oil palm farming, reports the BBC.
Habitat loss from rubber plantations threatens endangered species like the clouded leopard, yellow-cheeked crested gibbon and white-shouldered ibis. In addition to the endangered animals that would suffer from an increase in rubber trees, bat, bird and beetle species face a decline of 75 percent in areas where natural tropical forest has been replaced with rubber trees, according to the UEA researchers.
What is needed to protect these forests, suggest scientists from both UEA and the University of Sheffield, is for tire manufacturers to implement certification standards for the industry.
Environmentally friendly requirements could include agro-forestry—planting more than just rubber trees—and leaving areas of natural vegetation along rivers or in areas set aside for conservation purposes. Whatever the solution, the onus is on the industries supplying the world’s largest quantities of rubber to the public to ensure the best methods are being used.
Sign this petition in support of certification standards for the rubber industry.
Dear Mr. Kramer, Mr. Senard and Mr. Tsuya-San,
Tire manufacturers are responsible for 75 percent of the world’s consumption of natural rubber products. At the current rate of demand for vehicle and airplane tires, it is estimated that rubber plantations could cover as much as 8.5 million hectares—about the size of Austria—of forest.
This rapid takeover of tropical forest threatens endangered species and local biodiversity, in addition to putting bat, bird ad beetle populations at a heightened risk of decline. The rubber industry revolves around the tire manufacturers that dominate it.
I urge you to devise and implement an environmentally responsible set of certification standards to hold the companies supplying your rubber to.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: M.arunprasad via Wikimedia commons