PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2016, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (3): 286-294.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2016.03.003

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Review of remote sensing monitoring and socioeconomic and environmental impacts of rubber plantation expansion in Laos in the geoeconomic context

Peng LI(), Zhiming FENG*()   

  1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2015-10-01 Accepted:2016-01-01 Online:2016-03-25 Published:2016-03-25
  • Contact: Zhiming FENG;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41271117, No.41301090


Since the launch of the Greater Mekong Sub-region Economic Cooperation Program in 1992, driven by the global natural rubber market and geoeconomic cooperation mechanisms, Laos, the only land-locked country in mainland Southeast Asia is experiencing rapid land cover and land use change (LCLUC) due to the rapid establishment and expansion of rubber plantations. Rubber production expansion in Laos is of great importance for China, the largest country of rubber consumption globally, and the rubber-related LCLUC also causes dramatic socioeconomic and environmental impacts within Laos. Therefore, it is important to review rubber plantation establishment and expansion and related remote sensing and impacts studies reported during the last two decades. In this study, after briefly introducing the production, expansion mechanism, and development potential of rubber plantations in Laos, we systematically summarized the research progress on remote sensing monitoring and socioeconomic and environmental impacts of rubber plantation expansion. The review shows that existing studies lack of updated spatial information (extent and distribution) on the establishment and expansion of rubber plantations at the national scale. Effects in the socioeconomic (livelihoods) and environmental (soil erosion, water conservation, biodiversity, etc.) systems are not fully understood. These issues are also the research directions in the future. This study may help improve understanding of the characteristics of rubber plantation expansion and related impacts, and provide guidance for a sound development of rubber industry. In addition, it provides important information for rubber plantation development in Hainan and Yunnan Provinces in China.

Key words: geoeconomics, rubber plantation, expansion mechanism, development potential, phenology, remotesensing, Laos