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Cork oak

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IUCN Red List conservation status

About: Cork oak

Cork oak forests are found in Spain, Portugal, Italy, France and northern Africa. Cork oak is an evergreen tree, can grow to 20 metres in height and has thick, deeply ridged bark that is harvested as cork.

Interestingly this does not damage the tree as the bark renews itself. So it’s a perfect example of a truly sustainable natural resource.

Cork oak facts:

  • The Romans used cork oak for buoys in fishing nets after they discovered the bark could float
  • In the 21st century cork is mostly used for the production of wine bottle corks
  • Cork oak trees live for between 150 and 250 years
  • The tree is a crucial component of the Portuguese montado habitat – home to the Iberian lynx
  • Threats: farmers are removing old cork trees to plant citrus, due to decreasing global demand for cork

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is working with local conservation organisations and landowners to secure and manage a belt of land that includes cork oak forest across southern Portugal.

This important area of natural habitat will provide a corridor large enough to support a viable population of the threatened Iberian lynx and Eurasian black vulture.

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