Montado or oak forests in Portugal
In Portugal, extensive areas of land surface are devoted to forestry and forest resources. This is because the forest products are extremely important for the economic growth of the country as they constitute about 10% of exports and in recent times, profit levels have increased considerably. In addition there is a growing international recognition of montados as home for a range of wildlife and biodiversity. A variety of vegetation composes the forest cover in Portugal which is about 38% of its land area. Of the total forest area, 31% is occupied by the wild maritime opine trees and 21% is accounted by the eucalyptus plantations. But one of the most significant indigenous species planted and cultivated in Portugal since antiquity are the cork oak trees. The cork oaks and the holm oak trees occupy extensive areas of the forest.
There are many different kinds of oak forests and in Portugal the cork and holm oak forests are extremely predominant and its proximity to the Mediterranean basin along with the climatic characteristics aids its growth. There are various reasons behind the widespread cultivation of the cork oaks and holm oaks. The cork oaks and holm oaks which grow extensively in the forests of Portugal can be cultivated in almost any soil type and there are no hard and fast rules with regard to its growth though in order to occupy huge tracts of lands as forests. Especially the cork oak trees are extremely helpful in preserving the ecological balance of the forest environment. This is possible as the premier product which is obtained from the cork oak trees i.e. cork is a vegetable tissue and a renewable resource and recyclable and therefore environment friendly. In fact oak trees in the forest covers of Portugal facilitate forest conservation immensely. In Portugal, the forest department is extremely instrumental in the preservation of oak trees and therefore, cutting down of these trees are considered illegal and is a punishable offence.