The Cork Forests
Cork forests are farmed in a unique ecosystem that has been created from the interplay of human intervention and natural necessity.
In the Mediterranean, the cork oak forests support much more than cork material production. Centuries ago as humans inhabited the forests they cleared underbrush so that their livestock could graze. They kept the trees to give respite from the sun. The grasslands under the canopy became home to hares which are food for the Iberian lynx and the Imperial Eagle. Honey farming was developed and cheeses produced to add to the local diet and markets. Cork forests are still managed within this balanced ecosystem that is an example of how humanity and nature should interact.
In Central Asia, the harvesting of cork is relatively recent. Roads into the forests are rare and harvesting is done by local villagers who travel by foot into the forest and harvest the cork bark by hand. The trails are narrow and this small ecological footprint keeps the forests intact for animals such as the Golden Takin, a rare and beautiful hoofed animal, and the Golden Monkey. No trees are cut down for the harvest and trees that die naturally are used for the cultivation of tasty, edible mushrooms.