Wild rubber exhibit
We're all familiar with rubber, but many of us have never seen where it comes from. See how it's tapped from trees at this exhibit in our Rainforest Biome.
How to make sandals from an old tyre
Watch Lisa Cronin recycle a tyre in our rainforest.Play video
Visit our rubber exhibit to learn how wild rubber is tapped directly from trees (Hevea brasiliensis) as liquid latex and then made into useful things like wellies and elastic bands.
The interactive station is great for kids, with all sorts of handles to turn, puzzles to solve, and binoculars to peer through.
More about this
We created the exhibit with Sky Rainforest Rescue – a partnership between Sky and WWF – to bring to life the fascinating story of how they’re providing small rubber production units to families in Brazil, to give them a crucial livelihood, and in turn encourage them to protect the rainforest.
These units, which come with the equipment needed to press liquid latex into sheets of rubber, mean locals can tap existing wild rubber trees sustainably, rather than clear large parts of the rainforest to cultivate rubber plantations. The units give them a fairer deal, too, because they can sell the rubber directly to manufacturers at a higher price.
The initiative has also introduced schemes to support families in making their soil more fertile. This means they’re less likely to resort to ‘slash-and-burn’ agriculture, a traditional method of burning plants to bring temporary fertility to the soil. All this matters because deforestation not only impacts the lives of animal and plant species in the region, but increases the damaging effects of global climate change for us all.
Did you know?
- Rubber tappers make diagonal cuts into the rubber tree's bark using lathes (the tree isn’t harmed by this process).
- The sap of the rubber tree, called latex, flows freely from cuts made in the tree and is collected in the attached cup.
- Filtered latex is then poured into a tray, ready for pressing into sheets of rubber. You can see latex sheets hanging up ‘to dry’ in our rubber hut.