As many of you know, I am a big fan of the multiple uses of sustainable cork. Beautiful, versitile, and sustainably grown and harvested, cork really is a super material. I recently was contacted by some great folks at the World Wildlife Fund charity regarding a crowdfunding project on Earth Hour. Put on by WWF Portugal the project aims to educate farmers and FSC certify their operations to ensure a continued sustainable farmed forest.
Southern Portugal is home to the largest intact cork oak (Quercus suber) forests on the planet, however, these forests are on the decline and are being converted due to the shift in bottling practices towards plastic and metal wine stoppers and bottle caps.
At risk is more than tradition and sustainable cork products, but also the endangered cats who populate these forests. The Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) is highly endangered, in fact, only 200 cats remain. The Mediterranean cork oak landscape supports the world’s last populations of this beautiful cat.
The project looks to achieve 4 goals:
- Gain accurate information on cork oak forests
- Empower farmers and landowners to register their properties and share what Nature’s services their land is providing
- Reward the forest producers for their sustainable forest management practices through credible forest certification such as FSC
- Encourage similar projects across Europe and serve as a model for sustainable forestry practices
Each tree can produce enough material for 4,000 wine corks, and live up to 250 years. These are the only trees that can survive after all its bark is harvested, renewing its bark entirely by itself. Hence, no trees are cut down. As local farming communities rely on these trees to support their livelihoods, corks are a major part of this region’s economy.
They need your support! Head over to earthhour.org/take-action and make a difference.