To feed this demand, China is seeking to expand its natural rubber output, which is expected to grow by 30% by 2010, the report said.
Three decades ago, jungles and high mountain forests covered about 70% of Xishuangbanna, a region of China's Yunnan province one of the country's top rubber-producing areas. By 2003, that proportion had shrunk to less than 50%, the report said. "With rubber prices rising like crazy, any tree that can be cut down has been cut down to make way for rubber," Liu Wenjie, an ecologist, was quoted as saying.
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