Can you imagine a tree bark that plays a crucial role in the making of engine, cricket balls, baseball, and champagne–a bark that was used thousands of years ago by fishermen and elegant ladies alike and that has even been used in outer space? More amazing is the fact that this unique bark can fill all these needs without the tree being felled!
The cork oak generously produces its resilient bark year after year. Unharvested the bark can grow to be 25 centimeters thick–a useful overcoat for protecting the tree against the bark, the cork oak gradually grows another coating within about ten years.
Portugal provides about 55 percent of the worldwide cork production, spain about 30 percent, and other countries (including Algeria, France, Italy, Morocco, And Tunisia) the remaining 15 percent.
Romans and Greeks discovered that cork made ideal floats for fishing nets and could make a comfortable sole for sandals. Apparently, they also used cork stoppers for jars. Since it keeps its elastic property even at high temperatures, cork is ideal for engine gaskets. It is also an integral part of heat panels used on certain spaceships.
Because many homeowners appreciate both its appearance and its insulation properties, cork tiles have become popular for decorating walls and floors. Makers of sporting goods also find cork invaluable for the inner core of a baseball or the handle of a fishing rod. Of course, cork is perhaps best known for its use as a stopper for bottle of wine and champagne.
“THE IDEAL STOPPER”
Many cork that have been removed from bottles that are over a hundred years old, and this wine have been effectively preserved! Truly cork is the ideal stopper.
A coak oak tree has a life span of about 200 years, and some specimens live much longer. The cork is harvested every nine years.
To produce a high quality stopper, cork oak must be at least 50 years old, although the first harvest can be obtained 25 years after planting the acorn. Of course, only few people are prepared to invest in a crop that will not make money for 50 years. In fact, I can’t think of any industry that has to wait so long before becoming profitable. The European Union and local regional government have provided subsidies to encourage the planting of cork oaks. They have also been introduction on small handsaw that will enable cork strippers to remove the bark mor efficiency, a task that has been done with axes for centuries.
HOW ARE CORK MADE
*SKILLED WORKER CAREFULLY REMOVE THE BARK
*PLANKS ARE STACKED, READY FOR THE NEXT STEP
A well maintained cork forest offers proof that man can work in harmony with nature, harvesting its bounty without despoiling its riches. The old cork oaks beautify the countryside, providing shade and food for cattle that graze beneath their boughs, and temper the harsh summer climate.
Several birds in danger of extinction including the imperial eagle, the black vulture, and the black stock, depends on large cork oaks for suitable nesting sites. The endangered Iberian Lynx also finds its last stronghold in forests of these oaks. Recently, the World Wildlife Fund stated that the survival of this species of lynx depends on the prosperity of the cork industry in Spain and Portugal.
So the next time you remove a cork from a bottle of wine, take a moment to appreciate it. You hold in your hand a natural, biodegradable, renewable object. And its use even serves to protect the environment. What more could you ask from a tree?
Please feel free to comment on this article, if you may have been confused about the usefulness of a cork on some bottles you might have seen at home or stores.