Rubber tapping

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Description:
Rubber tapping is the process by which the sap (rubber) is collected from a rubber tree. An incision is made in the tree's bark, which cuts through the planting cycle to optimise the latex yield.

Rubber tapping is an environmentally attractive land use. Jungle rubber is essentially old secondary forest, strongly resembling the primary forest. Its species richness is about half that of the primary forest. Michon and de Foresta (1994) found that sample jungle rubber sites contained 92 tree species, 97 lianas, and 28 epiphytes against 171, 89, and 63 respectively in the primary forest, and compared to 1, 1, and 2 in monoculture estates. Thiollay (1995) estimated that jungle rubber supports about 137 bird species, against 241 in the primary forest itself. Jungle rubber is expected to resemble primary forest in its hydrological functions. Monoculture rubber tree plantations have far less of an environmental impact than other crops, such as coffee or especially oil palm.

Process

Each night a rubber tapper must remove a thin layer of bark along a downward half spiral on the tree trunk. If done carefully and with skill, this tapping panel will yield latex for up to 5 years. Then the opposite side will be tapped allowing this side to heal over. The spiral allows the latex to run down to a collecting cup. The work is done at night or in the early morning before the day's temperature rises , so the...
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