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The Portuguese Cork Harvest: A Story of Culture, Nature and Future

The wise country folk of Portugal have a saying; “Plant a cork oak forest for your grandchildren.” They know that their future and the future of their descendants are dependent not only on the harvesting of cork, but also on maintaining the amazingly rich environmental biodiversity of the cork forests and the balance of the climate itself. Besides its capacity to produce oxygen, the cork oak has a unique cell structure that enables it to retain carbon dioxide, the principle cause of global warming.

In Portugal, the montado (cork oak forests) are protected natural treasures and the harvesting of the cork bark is strictly regulated, does not harm the tree and actually helps support and extend the natural habitat, vegetative growth,and wildlife. Home to an interminable variety of animal and plant species, the montado contributes to both regulating the hydrological cycle and soil protection, avoiding desertification. The forests provide vital habitat for a range of flora and fauna, ensuring a rich biodiversity and are home to some of Europe's most endangered species including the Iberian Lynx, Barbary Deer and Imperial Iberian Eagle.

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