No, not that wonderful town in Eire, I’m talking about the material we remove from our wine bottles (and other products).
We were travelling through some wonderful countryside in Portugal earlier today and were trying to work out why some of the trees had 1.5 – 2 meters of their bark stripped (see image).
Thanks to our great friend Google, we got our answer…. These were Cork Oak Trees. The hyper link gives a few more details about these trees, but it would appear that harvesting the bark (cork) from the trees does them no harm and it re-grows.
The trees can live up to 250 years and cork is harvested every 10 years or so (starting when the tree is 25 years old).
Portugal produces 50% of the worlds cork (still harvested by hand), and are protected from being cut down (unless the tree is dead or diseased).
As normal, my head was full of weird questions like, who the hell first thought of stripping bark from a tree and using it to seal a bottle of wine? That thought would not have crossed my mind…….
I’m wasn’t sure how the cork is processed but again google can provide the answer if your interested (or click here).
Another interesting fact is that harvested cork trees are estimated to absorb 3 to 5 times more carbon than unharvested trees (Source)
There was me feeling sorry for the good old Cork Oak as I do enjoy the odd bottle or 2, but I can now justify my wine consumption as I’m helping the planet deal with Carbon emissions – I’ll drink to that x