The Ecological & Environmental Importance of Cork Oak Landscapes Essay

The Ecological & Environmental Importance of Cork Oak Landscapes Essay

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Cork oak, Quercus suber, is native to the Woodland Biome located in the Mediterranean. These cork oak forests are common in such mediterranean countries as Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Italy, and France. Known for its high species diversity, the cork oak is one of 13,000 plant species found only in this Mediterranean Woodland (Cork Screwed? 2006). In fact, the mediterranean has the second highest level of species diversity, aside from the tropical Andes. As we know, ‘diversity begets diversity’, and this high level of plant diversity allows for a high level of animal diversity as well. Endemic to this Mediterranean biome include spiders, geckos, skinks, the Iberian Lynx, the Iberian Imperial Eagle, Barbary Deer, Cinereous Vultures, and Black Storks. Many of these species are either threatened or endangered species found only in the Mediterranean cork forests (Cork Screwed? 2006).
Besides serving as the sole habitat for many species, cork forests also serve many other important functions. For one, these forests, found near the Gibraltar Straits, act as a kind of rest stop for the many migratory birds traveling from western Europe (Cork Screwed? 2006). These forests also prevent any possible landslides or erosion that could occur on the steeply sloped forest hills by anchoring their roots deep into the soils. Their deep roots also help transport nutrients from deep underground to the upper soil levels for the short rooted herbaceous layer. Their treetop canopy also protects the soil from water erosion by intercepting much of the rainfall (Cork Screwed? 2006). Another important value of cork trees is their ability to absorb carbon dioxide and thus reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In fact, wh...

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...k 2012). Unlike many other of our environmental crisis, this in one that can be solved on a consumer level and does not rely solely on the backs of big companies and distant governments.


Bugalho, M. N., M. C. Caldeira, J. S. Pereira, J. Aronson, and J. G. Pausas. 2011. Mediterranean cork oak savannas require human use to sustain biod- iversity and ecosystem services:1–17.

"Cork Screwed? Environmental and Economic Impacts of the Cork Stoppers Market." World Wildlife Fund. N.p., May 2006. Web. 9 Dec. 2013.

"Cork Oak Landscapes." World Wildlife Fund. n.d. Web. 8 Dec. 2013.

Gunther, M. (2012). “Our solutions: wwf's work for the cork forests”. World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved from

"A Friend for Life." N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Dec. 2013.

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