One of the most sustainable and natural materials known to man, Cortiça – Quercus Suber – is the bark of the cork oak.
Cork is removed – or harvested – from the tree by ‘stripping’ the cork bark using axes. A highly skilled and labour intensive process handed down between generations. No trees are felled. Harvested every 9 years, a cork tree will live for 150 years. Once removed from the tree the cork bark is stacked in the open air for around 6 months before it’s put to use.
The cork industry is a backbone to Portugal’s rural way of life – supporting some 9,000 direct jobs and at least 6,500 indirect jobs. The local cork industry and agroforestry system encourages people to settle and thus halts the depopulation of these communities, . encompassing the industries of livestock, beekeeping and production of aromatic and medicinal plants and mushrooms. Cork not used for wine stoppers is broken down to a granular form and used to manufacture a wide range of products from flooring to toys.