Cork and forest conservation
Among the various forest products that are obtained from the forests of Portugal, one of the foremost is the cork which is gathered from the bark of the cork oak trees which are cultivated in abundance in Portugal. Portugal accounts for about 50% of the total cork production in the world and is the leading exporter in the world as well. It is derived that an estimated 720 hectares of forest land is devoted to the production of cork oak trees. The Mediterranean type climate of Portugal immensely facilitates the production of cork oak trees and the bark of the cork oak tree is known as cork. The cork oak tree can survive for over 150 years and when it is about 25 years old, the rough and rugged and thick bark of the cork oak tree is removed to be harvested for over a decade and after harvesting it is considered to be suitable for use. It is quite natural to raise the question at this point that in which way can cork aid in forest conservation. There are various reasons behind that.
First and foremost, it is to be remembered that as soon as the bark of the cork oak tree or the cork is removed, it is replaced by a new layer which begins growing once more. Therefore, the cork is a renewable resource. Cork is a vegetable tissue and at the time of its harvesting no chemical or artificial process is involved and as a result it always retains its naturalness and therefore the forest environment remains unhampered. Moreover, apart from being ecological, corks are also biodegradable substances. In the present era, when the world is endangered by the growing effects of environmental pollution aggravated by the growing amount of garbage and chemical wastes that harm the natural surroundings, cork is natural and it can be recycled for reuse later. Thus cork is extremely helpful in maintaining the ecological balance and aiding forest conservation.