As friend ride v Portugal, an especially the Alentejo and Algarve regions, you will watch gnarly, reddish rather sculptural however ugly oak trees sporting big numbers in white paint on their trunks. These room the Quercus Suber, one evergreen Oak tree, dropping acorns and also growing a special bark that is generally known together a cork tree. The is the primary resource of cork because that wine bottle stoppers and also a multitude of various other uses, such as cork flooring and also for the cores that cricket balls. Portugal produces about half the people output of advertising cork, and also its exports over recent years have accounted for roughly 70 percent of people trade.

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Cork Oak is indigenous to southwest Europe and also northwest Africa wherein it is fine suited come this climate: one abundant and also evenly spread rainfall, short summer dry durations tempered by atmospheric humidity, an extremely mild winters, clean skies and also plenty of sunshine, an extremely permeable, moist and also deep siliceous soils.

A fascinating and also important tree, Cork Oaks deserve to support diverse ecosystems and also for this reason are a safeguarded species, v their harvesting process being heavily legislated and also regulated in Portugal. The species, i m sorry covers approximately 8 percent that the total area of Portugal and also constitutes 28 percent of its forests , grows best in the central and southern parts of the country where the biggest stands offering the greatest percentage the high-grade cork room to it is in found.


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Every year native Mid may to Mid August , well-trained seasonal harvesters stage their harvest that the Cork Oak in Portugal. As soon as a tree is about 25 years old it deserve to be harvested for its ‘virgin cork’ and also then every 9 years after the cork ‘bark’ is harvested, and also the year is significant on the tree through the last variety of that year (ie. A tree harvested this summer will be painted v a 9). Portuguese legislation prohibits stripping the trees an ext than once every nine years in bespeak to safeguard the species. 38 year old bark (roughly the third harvest) is once the bark becomes of high enough quality to create wine stoppers.

The harvest that the height of the tree is identified by the diameter, if the tree is 1 metre in diameter, you deserve to harvest three metres of the elevation of the tree. A Cork Oak resides for around 150 - 200 years on average meaning that it will be harvested around 15 times over its lifecycle.


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After harvest, trucks carry the cork to plants to it is in stabilised and prepared because that cork stopper and other manufacturing processes. First, the slabs that bark room pressed under concrete slabs because that 6 months, the cork is then sterilized using a huge boiler. Next, the cork is classified into quality qualities for various uses, with proficient cork workers visually assessing the high quality of the bark. Alcohol cork stoppers are made in the phibìc of Portugal and also then exported almost everywhere Europe. The residual cork wood can be used for flooring and building products (see other uses below) but also a brand-new market in cork-based eco-fashion has become a trend in recent years.


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The europe cork sector produces 300,000 tonnes of cork a year, with a value of €1.5 billion and employing 30,000 people. Wine corks stand for 15% the cork consumption by weight yet 66% that revenues.

Of the creating countries, Portugal, plays vital part in the commercial utilization that cork, and so rightly rectal the foremost position. It has actually 500 factories, i m sorry employ around 20,000 workers, equipped through the latest machinery and also utilizing the latest technical advances, permitting the sector to satisfy the need for any kind of product. This industry produces stoppers, discs, different types of floats, shoes soles, to press paper, cigarette tips, bathtub mats, table mats, hat bands, fishing rod handles, various kinds of packing. Cork wool is developed for cushions and mattresses and granulated cork work chiefly as insulating product in ship-building, together a security packing for fruit and eggs, and as tubing because that plastic substances.

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Near the Portuguese town of Águas de Moura the Sobreiro monumental (Monumental Cork Oak) is located, a tree of 234 year old, 16 metres (52 ft) tall and also with a trunk that calls for at least five world to embrace it. It has been considered a nationwide Monument because 1988, and also the Guinness publication of records states it as the largest and also oldest in the world.