How the choice of the cork can impact the environment?
We've got our certification on CO2 sequestering!

Società Agricola Le Buche srl

We are more and more sensitive to our ecological footprint and for this reason we are pleased to inform you that we have saved 17.6 tons of CO2 in the last year by using corks!
Yes, exactly, corks are often a topic in the wine world and periodically there are initiatives to replace them with Stelvin stoppers or other solutions.
But why is the use of cork ecological?
Here are some curiosities that will no longer leave you indifferent in front of a cork!

First of all: do you know the cork oak tree?
Quercus sugheris is an evergreen and long-lived plant that grows in the Mediterranean regions and especially in the Iberian Peninsula. They live on average 200 years and have a great ability to regenerate: during their life cycle, the bark can regenerate itself up to 16 times.

The cork, which covers the trunk of the tree and constitutes its bark, has unique characteristics that are difficult to reproduce artificially: it is very light, elastic, compressible, resistant to abrasion and impermeable to liquids and gases.

The “Decortication” of cork oak trees: what is it?
It is the operation of removing the bark from the plant without cutting down the tree itself. It is a unique and extremely fascinating process that is the basis of the entire industry linked to this raw material.

But what is the process of decortication?
The bark is taken between June and July when it is possible to remove it easily and without injuring the plant.
The trunk remains "naked" and a number is painted on it to mark the year of shelling: a fundamental operation to identify which trees need to be shelled and which ones will have to wait to regenerate the bark up until to a maximum of 9 years.
It takes 25 years to the tree to grow from a seed to its first hulling.
The first bark/cork is therefore called "virgin cork" and can only be used for the production of decorative articles and granulated products. It takes another 2 cycles of 9 years before you can obtain your first bark to produce corks: that's 43 years minimum in total!. With a rate of one decorticum every 9 years the same plant can undergo this process for over 200 years and then live up to 300-400 years.

Where can we find cork oak tree forests?
The Mediterranean basin, the only area in the world that allows the development of this type of plant, hosts about 2.2 million hectares of cork oak tree forests. In Italy we have cork oaks mostly in Sardinia and in Sicily, Calabria, Lazio, Tuscany and Campania.
The main country for cork production, however, is Portugal, which alone produces 52% of the total quantity, that is over 150 thousand tons. Portuguese companies operating in the cork sector produce around 40 million closures per day and employ around 12,000 workers.

Why are the corks important against environmental desertification?
In the case of the cork industry, the role of the extraction activity acts as a valuable ally in the fight against desertification, as it implies responsible forest management that allows a more effective protection of the cork forests. The best way to protect them is the exploitation of forests for the production of corks. The decortication activity, if done accurately and respecting the natural regrowth rhythms, is a beneficial process for the plant, which does not weaken it, on the contrary, it regenerates it and also implies important social and environmental consequences for the territory in which the forest grows.

Cork oak forests also as social support:
The work of the decorticator is the best paid agricultural activity in the world and usually involves people who reside in localities inside or adjacent to the forest. The pay is around 90 euros a day, during three months per year. The activity starts at 6AM and ends at 2PM, when the temperatures start to be difficult to bear. This activity represents for many families a fundamental (or the only) source of livelihood and therefore is configured as a tool to fight against the "social desertification" of some rural areas.

Natural habitat of wild fauna and flora
The cork forests are the natural habitat of many species of animals and plants, some of which are endangered such as the Iberian lynx, the very rare Sardinian dormouse and the goshawk. The particular patchy conformation of the cork oak canopy allows pasture and undergrowth to grow luxuriantly so it becomes the perfect habitat also for pasture farms usually greedy for cork acorns.

The Cork oak forests against fires and hydro ecological instability
Thanks to its characteristic excellent resistance to fire (cork is known for its excellent fire-retardant properties), cork oak is the driving force behind the rebirth and growth of the forest after the passage of a wildfire. It is also one of the major contributors to the hydrogeological stability of a territory, as its foliage, which protects the soil from being too hot during the summer and from the frost during winter. It also retains moisture, acting effectively against soil erosion.

Like all forests, the function of the cork forests is fundamental for the filtering action that operates on the air we breathe, cleaning it. Cork oak trees are valuable allies in the process of protecting the planet from global warming, as in addition to producing and releasing oxygen through photosynthesis, they trap CO2 and transform it into wood. Each year the cork forests of the Mediterranean region absorb 14 million tons of CO2.

A curiosity
The floors of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, designed by Antonio Gaudì, and declared a World Heritage Site in 1994, are made of cork.
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