Southwest Europe and Northwest Africa
Up to 20m
The perfect partnership
The harvesting of cork oak offers one of the finest examples of traditional, sustainable land use. However, this landscape faces many problems which threaten the future livelihoods of thousands of people and the very existence of numerous rare and endemic species.
For future generations
If the cork oak forests are preserved, future generations can rely on these trees for their livelihoods. The endangered species which rely on these forests for their habitat will also have their future assured.
These forests provide a vital source of income for thousands of people and they support one of the world’s highest levels of forest biodiversity, including the critically endangered Iberian lynx, the Iberian imperial eagle, the Barbary deer, many species of rare birds as well as many fungi, ferns and other plants.
More on the biodiversity of the cork oak landscape
Cork oak forests also play a key role in maintaining watersheds, preventing erosion and keeping soils healthy. They are a great example of balanced conservation and economic development. Their preservation is vital for the well-being of the Mediterranean region.
Harvesting of cork for use in wine stoppers is entirely sustainable.
The bark renews itself after harvesting and no trees are cut down. As local people rely on these trees to support their livelihoods, they also look after the forests.
What are the threats to cork oak?
Increased market share for alternative wine stoppers could reduce the value of cork oak areas, leading to their conversion or abandonment.
If the demand for cork is not maintained there’s a risk the cork oak landscapes of the western Mediterranean will, within a decade, face increased poverty, more forest fires, loss of biodiversity, and faster desertification.
More on the threats to cork
What is WWF doing?
GFTN (Global Forest & Trade Network) Iberia is WWF's initiative to eliminate illegal logging and transform the global marketplace into a force for saving the world's valuable and threatened forests, such as the cork oak forests. By facilitating trade links betweencork product companies committed to achieving and supporting responsible forestry, the GFTN Iberia creates market conditions that help conserve the cork oak forests while providing economic and social benefits for the businesses and people that depend on them.
WWF projects that support this work include:
- Preserving Mediterranean’s cork
- A Wine and Cork Initiative: Ensuring a Sustainable Future for Cork Oak Landscapes
- Promoting Sustainable Natural Resource Use in Biodiversity Hotspots in North Africa
How you can help
- Choose wine which uses cork stoppers rather than screw top or plastic stoppers. Here are the wineries that are part of WWF's Cork Initiative or look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification on wine labels.
- If you are a wine producer, join the Cork Initiative and help preserve a unique natural and cultural heritage.
- Spread the word! Click on the button to share this information with others via email or your favourite social networking service.