The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) urged Portugal and other countries to expand their cork forest to act as a barrier against the encroachment of the desert due to global warming. The WWF asserts that in Portugal and Spain cork oak landscapes are important homes to Iberian Lynx (the world's most endangered big cat with only 100 thought to survive), the Spanish Imperial Eagle (with only 150 pairs thought to survive), and in North Africa the Barbary Deer (with only about 200 remaining). Plus, the acorns of the Cork Oak is food for many animals in the wild and is also used for feeding swine and other livestock.
Harvesting cork is a highly
skilled job; even the axes are specially designed. Cork
cutters make precise incisions into the cork bark and then
strip it off the trees -
like peeling the skin away from
a banana. An experienced worker can gather up to 1,300 lbs. of
cork each day.
After harvest, each tree is painted with a big white number to indicate
when it was last stripped. The trees are left for nine years to allow the cork
bark to grow back and then the whole process starts again.
the wine corks are cut from the bark, the remaining cork is used to make