Forests: For Life!
Cork oak (Quercus suber), Andalucia, Spain.
A majestic cork oak is perched high in the mountains near Alcala de los Gazules in Andalucia, Southern Spain. Cork oak forest landscapes represent one of the best Mediterranean examples for the development of the multi-functional role of forests, maintained over thousands of years. When they are well managed, cork oak forests provide valuable ecological functions such as the conservation of soil, buffering against climate change and desertification, water table recharge and run-off control.
In Southern Europe, the population drift from rural areas has reduced the availability of labour for farming and forestry. In the Mediterranean countries of North Africa, there is increasing pressure on cork oak landscapes for more intensive land use such as pasture and agriculture, as well as forestry.
WWF is working with local NGOs for the sustainable management of cork oak forests in the Mediterranean. As the frontline in WWF's battle against desertification, cork oak forests are part of a project to set up a network of protected areas that would buffer desert encroachment. WWF is also working to restore the forests of the Mediterranean, specifically in Portugal and Tunisia.