Talk Colorado Wine & Colorado's Wine Country: Saving Portugal's Endangered Cork Oak Trees

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Saving Portugal's Endangered Cork Oak Trees

According to Wikipedia, cork is harvested for commercial use primarily from the Cork Oak tree, Quercus suber, with Portugal producing 50 percent of cork worldwide. Cork is the perfect bottle stopper, about 60 percent of all cork based production used for making wine stoppers.

The problem is that, as global wine consumption increases, production far outstrips supply. These trees need about a decade to recover between harvests. Plus, saving the cork oaks is not simply an issue of industry. The forests must be preserved to cut down on deforestation and global warming.

Thus, a "Portuguese Cork Firm Uncaps Campaign to Save Trees." Or so reads the headline written by Reuters Life! reporter Andrei Khalip. Khalip writes:

"The world's leading cork maker has launched a campaign against the increasing use of screw caps and plastic stoppers in wine bottles, which it says is a threat to Portugal's forests of cork oaks.

"Portugal's Amorim Corticeira argues that using only cork stoppers would ensure the survival of the forests and sustain their unique ecosystems, home to several endangered animal species such as the Iberian lynx.

"Portugal is the world's largest cork producer. Amorim does not grow the trees itself but buys cork from producers.

"The cork industry in general is under attack, one could say, from alternative wine bottle closures," Carlos de Jesus, Amorim marketing director, told Reuters.

"If cork growers lose the cash interest, they will plant something else, jeopardizing the sustainability chain."

"Cork oaks are not cut down but their bark is harvested every nine years in a tree's lifespan of more than 150 years.

"The campaign ( followed a study by the WWF in June urging Portugal to expand its cork forests to prevent growing desertification caused by global warming.

"De Jesus said the proportion of cork stoppers in wine bottles had fallen to 70 percent from 90 percent in 12 years."

Read the rest of the story here.

1 comment:

ClaireWalter said...

I was in Portugal last year and visited the Casa de Calhariz, which has a vineyard, makes a distinctive farmstead cheese, riases champion horses and has some cork trees on the property too. I didn't know this much about Portuguese cork until I read your post, so thanks for filling in my cork knowledge gap. See

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