Cork oak (Quercus suber) is an endemic tree species to the western Mediterranean Basin where it naturally occurs in Southern Europe (Portugal, Spain, France and Sardinia in Italy) and Northern Africa (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia). It is mostly known by its bark - the cork - which is harvested each 9 to 12 years, without felling the trees, and mostly used as wine bottle stoppers. Other cork applications include use as pavements in buildings, insulation material, clothes or artwork. Across their area of distribution cork oak woodlands are multiple use systems where livestock production co-occurs with cork harvesting, and frequently other uses such as agricultural crops, big and small game hunting or recreation activities. The cork oak woodland understory typically forms a species diverse shrub-grassland matrix that provides a variety of ecological niches for plant and vertebrate species of conservation interest. Human management partly generates habitat heterogeneity that characterizes the biodiversity - rich cork oak woodlands. Both under-use (e.g. land abandonment) and over-use (e.g. overgrazing) may threat the conservation value of cork oak woodlands. The conservation of these woodlands must encompasses solutions promoting the sustainable use of the system.
Speaker: Miguel Bugalho, University of Lisbon
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