The farmers, several of whom were arrested, alleged that some local officials had helped rubber companies flout the rules and cut down the forest to plant rubber trees.
Chinese scientists who have studied the rainforest in the tropical region, which is in Yunnan province, say it has declined dramatically. Several decades ago it covered about 70% of Xishuangbanna, the report said, but that has fallen to about 43% today.
But local government officials denied the rainforest was still being cleared. One official told the BBC that most of those responsible for cutting down the forest were foreigners. "Some people from Vietnam and Laos have been coming over the border and chopping the forest down for valuable natural oil," he was quoted as saying. "It’s maybe 90% foreigners who are responsible. But we’ve already arrested five or six of them."
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