With growing demand for tropical agricultural products, including palm oil, rubber and wood-pulp, there is an urgent need to find sustainability between natural ecosystems, people and economics. Each crop has an emerging crop-specific sustainability initiative in varying degrees of development aimed at reducing the wider environmental and social damage they cause (negative externalities). However, planning methods and resulting land-use plans of government resource-use agencies and industry rarely take into account competition between crops and agricultural externalities, which increases the conflicts between environment, society and different crop types for land.
Focusing on natural rubber in Southeast Asia and West Africa, our project aims to develop a spatial model for the expansion of rubber agriculture and simulate optimal landscape plans for multiple crops that maximize ecological, social and economic sustainability. In addition, via collaboration with a network of commodity producer and purchaser companies, we hope to quantify the most relevant ecological and social impacts of rubber agriculture and expansion, and analyse different ways of internalizing externalities.