Answer: A study developed by the consulting firm EY concluded that the activity of Corticeira Amorim results in an annual carbon sequestration that is around 17 times the emissions of greenhouse gases of the entire value chain of Corticeira Amorim.

(Source: Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, EY 2019)

The total global production of cork is 200,000 tonnes per year, 50% from Portugal.

No. The extraction of cork is a controlled process and does not required the cork oak trees to be felled - on the contrary, it contributes to their regeneration. The cork industry ensures the continuity of the cork oak forest, by contributing to the maintenance of forests and the local populations that depend on them. A recent estimate forecasts that in Portugal alone, that has the world's largest area of cork oak forest, the cork available for harvesting is sufficient in its own right to meet market demand for many years. However, and in observance of new sustainable development paradigms, increasing environmental concerns in society and the countless possible uses within an infinite set of activities, it would be easy to foresee progressive demand from different industries for cork and cork-based products, solutions and applications. As a result, Corticeira Amorim, in close collaboration with forestry producers, is leading a Forestry Intervention Programme, aimed at increasing cork production in Portugal by 35% over the next ten years.

It is estimated that there are over 2.1 million hectares of cork oak forests. About one third (approximately 730,000 hectares) is situated in Portugal, which represents 22% of the national forest area. Half of the world’s cork production comes from Portugal. The rest comes from Spain, Italy, France, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.

The cork oak forest offers a set of economic and environmental goods and services that are related to agroforestry and other systems, such as ecotourism, generating a range of products that make a significant contribution to the economic importance of this ecosystem. The various productive systems in this ecosystem, in addition to cork, are: providing wood, animal products, plants and medicinal and aromatic herbs, mushrooms, honey; climate regulation, preventing fires, hydrological regulation and soil protection, maintaining habitats and biodiversity, pollination, and various cultural services such as recreation and tourism activities, scientific and educational activities and cultural and landscape identity. EY study estimated an average amount of over 1300 €/ha/year for the ecosystems services associated with a well-run cork oak forest.

(Source: Assessment of the services of the ecosystem of the cork oak forest EY 2019)

This ecosystem is extremely fire-resistant. Cork oak trees, in addition to being less flammable, are also a species that more easily repopulates burnt areas, which should be considered in replanting initiatives after forest fires.

(Source: Assessment of the services of the ecosystem of the cork oak forest EY 2019)

The cork oak forest plays an important role in promoting certain ecological functions, such as soil conservation, carbon storage and water retention, due to the vast existing biodiversity and the multifunctional exploitation that characterises it. Cork oak trees have long lives (about 200 years) providing the raw material, cork, which is known for its high elasticity, good thermal insulation and impermeability.

Cork products are the most valued items in the ecosystem, especially cork stoppers. Due to its varied characteristics, cork is also used in different sectors. As a result, cork has an enormous economic and social significance, in terms of job creation and local development of rural areas. It is estimated that over 100,000 people depend on these ecosystems for their livelihoods.

Cork oak forests are a biodiversity hotspot, protected by the EU Habitats Directive (habitat 6310 - cork oak forest and habitat 9330 - Quercus suber forests) and a priority shelter habitat 6220 (grass sub-strains (Thero-Brachypodietea)). As part of the Mediterranean Basin, the cork oak forest is integrated within one of the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots, as stipulated in the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund in partnership with Conservation International (CEPF, 2017). The Mediterranean Basin has 0.9% of all vertebrates and 4.3% of all plants, which translates to around 770 species of vertebrates and over 25,000 species of plants, more than half of which are indigenous.

The environmental and physical characteristics of the cork oak forest are the main reasons for its ecological value. Perennial trees with long life spans, along with the verticality and density of the shrub stratum, promote the coexistence of indigenous fauna and flora. Since it is an agroforestry ecosystem, there is an essential relationship between maintaining habitats with extensive farming practices and more traditional extraction methods, such as the one used for the extraction of cork.

The cork oak forest is a habitat for more than 130 species of vertebrates, including 75 birds, 28 mammals, 10-15 reptiles and 5-7 amphibians. Around 95% of all terrestrial mammals in Portugal can be found in the cork oak forest. The endangered Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus) is one of the species that historically lives and hunts in the cork oak forest, but which is currently only found in very limited numbers. One of the main reasons for this absence of lynx population is the decline in the population of the European rabbit (Oryctolaguscuniculus). In total, more than 28 cork oak forest fauna species are classified as protected. In terms of flora, there are more than 1,350/ha of vascular plants in this ecosystem, many classified as rare species or with protection status.

(Source: Assessment of the services of the ecosystem of the cork oak forest EY 2019)

It is due to the high level of expertise necessary to harvest the cork without damaging this precious resource.

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