Cork by hand Every year at the end of May, thousands of cork farmers sharpen old-fashioned axes and head out to the forests to gather cork by hand. Every cork oak is unique and only experienced harvesters using strict, ancient techniques know how to remove just enough cork without hurting or killing the tree.
Passion Portugal's people are passionate about the life within these forests and about the cork oak trees themselves. Cork harvesting has become both art and a significant part of Portuguese culture.
Every nine years Almost like giving the tree a haircut, cork bark is removed from the tree only when the time is right. A tree is first stripped when it turns 25 and then every nine years after that.
Regenerates A cork oak complexly regenerates its bark every nine years, yielding higher and higher quality cork with each harvest. A cork tree that has its bark periodically extracted produces 250 to 400% more cork than one that has never been stripped.
World's best kept In Portugal, centuries of ancestral techniques including selective thinning and low-density cultivation have established its cork oak forests as the best kept in the world.
IndustryThe cork industry is one of the largest employers in Portugal giving thousands of people a livelihood they are proud to be a part of. Cork farmers are dedicated to delicately removing only what they need so a tree can live out its 250-year life in comfort and without ecological disruption.
Conservation In the case of cork harvesting, compared to most forestry operations, harvesting by hand is not only about higher quality, it’s about environmental conservation.