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