The Ecological & Environmental Importance of Cork Oak Landscapes

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Cork oak, Quercus suber, is native to the Woodland Biome located in the Mediterranean. These cork oak forests are common in such mediterranean countries as Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Italy, and France. Known for its high species diversity, the cork oak is one of 13,000 plant species found only in this Mediterranean Woodland (Cork Screwed? 2006). In fact, the mediterranean has the second highest level of species diversity, aside from the tropical Andes. As we know, ‘diversity begets diversity’, and this high level of plant diversity allows for a high level of animal diversity as well. Endemic to this Mediterranean biome include spiders, geckos, skinks, the Iberian Lynx, the Iberian Imperial Eagle, Barbary Deer, Cinereous …show more content…
2006).
Like many forest landscapes around the world, the cork oak landscape face many threats brought on by human activities. These human activities include fires, forest clearance for agriculture or faster-growing plants, climate change, disease and overgrazing (WWF). They all cause destruction of the habitat by changing the environmental conditions for the vegetation and wildlife that live there and forcing them to adapt. If the forests are maintained, there is a reduced risk of fire and desertification. These forests provide a range of products and services both to their local and the international community. The major threat, however, is coming from increased use of plastic and metal substitutes for cork stoppers for wine bottles, which is cork’s main market (WWF). Production of natural cork stoppers accounts for about seventy percent of the value of these exports (Amorimcork 2012) so the wine and cork industry is very closely tied. About twelve billion cork stoppers are produced annually and if joined together, they would circle the Earth fifteen times (Amorimcork 2012). The reasoning behind looking at stopper alternatives came when two pieces of misinformation began to be used against the cork forest protection. The first was that there was a shortage of cork in the world. There is enough raw cork to in Portugal to meet and sustain demand for the next 100 years (Amorimcork 2012) but

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