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Rubber tree cultivation provides a living for 30 million people a year.

Michelin 18 May 2010

ENVIRONMENT

Yet the livelihood of these farmers is under threat from deforestation. Tyre manufacturers consume close to 70% of the world's production of natural rubber, so it’s up to companies like MICHELIN to protect and preserve these natural resources and ensure the sustainability of rubber (Hevea) tree cultivation.

For several decades, MICHELIN has been cultivating nearly 21,000 hectares of Hevea plantations in Brazil and Nigeria, which meet 12% of MICHELIN’s natural rubber requirements worldwide. To protect the long-term health of the Hevea crop in Brazil, for instance, MICHELIN invested in a sustainable agriculture program, to generate strategic social, environmental and economic results. These local farming sites also perform basic processing of their own and develop other types of culture between the lines of Hevea, such as cocoa and banana.

Protecting the biodiversity of tropical forests

Michelin created ‘ecological corridors’ that link the three patches of Atlantic forest in order to create continuity from the ocean coast to the inland areas covering some 3,000 hectares. This tropical forest, which originally extended along the entire Brazilian coastline, now measures only 10% of its original size making it one of the most threatened tropical forests in the world.

Working closely with local farming groups

Michelin is working closely with the local government and biodiversity groups to develop these corridors. In addition Michelin has developed family-owned rubber plantations by providing small neighbouring farms (1,000 families) with resistant varieties of Hevea produced by the breeding research program led by Michelin and CIRAD (Centre International pour la Recherche Agronomique et le Développement). With prices climbing, along with other commodities, the local community sees that it makes sense to be a producer, giving a guaranteed source of supply.

A new village

Michelin also decided to donate 18 hectares of land for the construction of a new village, named Nova Igrapiuna, mainly for the tappers and their families. The village is equipped with modern water processing units and includes green open spaces, medical facilities and schools.

Re-forestation program

After a survey of the territory and its species, a re-forestation program was also initiated. More than 2,700 acres of our Bahia, Brazil, rubber plantation have been kept totally uncultivated to help protect primeval forest and flora and fauna. The project has also reintroduced animals and encouraged eco-tourism in the area surrounding the waterfall to better protect the environment.

Raising ecological awareness

In an effort to preserve the ecosystem, Michelin is helping to raise ecological awareness within the regional community in cooperation with various organizations (CETREL, BioBrasil and Tropical Nature Foundations). You can learn more about this environmental education programme here. http://www.michelin-hevea.com

Biological and agricultural research

In the Hevea plantation areas, Michelin also conduct biological and agricultural research, with the following objectives in mind:

  • Improve techniques for the exploitation of the Hevea tree in order to lower production costs
  • Increase crop returns
  • Improve the quality of natural rubber
  • Combat diseases in Hevea trees

Combating rubber tree disease

Michelin has been working closely with a wide range of universities, scientific bodies and research organisations to fight more effectively against a South American disease caused by microcyclus ulei, a fungus that attacks the leaves of the Brazilian Hevea and could seriously jeopardize the Asian and African plantations. The fruits of this research have also made it possible to select and reproduce those varieties of Hevea that are more resistant to attack by parasites. For several years, we've donated young, fungus-resistant rubber trees to neighbouring small-scale farmers in Brazil. In 2006 alone we donated 200,000 trees.

Natural Resource conservation

In Nigeria, the four Michelin plantations are also committed to protecting the environment. The 500 hectares of tropical rain forest in the Osse River plantation bordering the Okumu National Park (protected since 1999) are today considered to be the last tropical rain forest reserve in the western part of the country. Thanks to this plantation, Michelin was awarded the 2002 prize from the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) for the most environmentally friendly company in Nigeria.

Recycling the used tyre

Today, fewer and fewer used tyres are ending up in landfill or dumps as new recycling possibilities are developed and more people become aware of the ecological stakes involved. MICHELIN is strongly committed to the fight to protect the environment and actively participates in the common movement within the tyre industry to encourage end-of-life tyre recycling. In Europe, the disposal in landfills of whole tyres has been illegal since 2003 and the disposal of shredded tyres has been illegal from 2006.

Recycling

  • car
  • 4x4 / suv
  • van / motorhome
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