"Cork is one of the most renewable and ecologically friendly materials found anywhere in the world."
"By using cork, people are helping to preserve forest habitat, reduce greenhouse gases, and contribute to plant and animal biodiversity."
Wicanders Cork is a 100 percent natural, renewable resource – it is NOT going extinct. It is harvested from the outer bark of the cork oak tree, which means not a single tree is ever cut down or damaged for a harvest. After cork bark is harvested from the tree, the bark immediately begins to renew itself. Cork oak trees are first harvested once they’ve reached the age of 25 years and are then harvested only once every nine years. A single cork oak tree can yield cork for up to 250 years.
Cork plays a vital role in fighting global warming by absorbing over 10 million tons of CO2 emissions each year, thereby reducing greenhouse gases and supporting oxygen production.
According to the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), “cork oak forests support one of the highest levels of biodiversity among forest habitats, as well as the highest diversity of plants found anywhere in the world.”
The Montado cork oak forest plays an important role in soil conservation and protection, contributing to the regulation of water cycles and fighting desertification. The Montado in Portugal is among the world’s top biodiversity “hot spots” supporting diverse ecosystems with grasslands and forests that provide a haven for grazing animals, bird species and pollinators – many that are highly endangered. It offers one of the most valuable “genetic banks” within the cork oak world.
Cork oak forests are protected natural treasures in Portugal and the harvesting of cork bark is strictly regulated. The Montado was the first certified forest in the world by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and adheres to the world’s strictest forest management regulations.
The Montado cork oak forest is responsible for making a very important contribution to both the economy and ecology of several Mediterranean countries including Portugal, Spain, Southern France, Italy and North Africa; Portugal has about 32 percent of the world’s cork acreage (736,700 hectares) and is the world leader in cork exports at 60 percent. The cork industry is in fact one of the largest employers in Portugal – the cultivation of the Montado is responsible for 10,000 direct cork industry jobs, 6,500 forestry development and management jobs and thousands more that are indirectly tied to the industry such as livestock farming, tourism, etc. The cork industry’s social economy alleviates poverty, protects forests against land development and is critical to sustaining local economies. The Montado and the cork flooring industry truly represent a triple bottom line philosophy: offering financial, environmental and social benefits
How it's Made:
“It’s interesting to think, that at the end of the day, the cork oak forest is really a raw material production site.”
Portugal currently exports more than US$1billion per year in cork products – making it a key contributor to the country’s manufacturing sector. Cork bark must be skillfully peeled away from mature trees by hand. It is an ancient art form that has been passed down from generation to generation in Portugal. Many cork farmers and “debarker specialists” today are harvesting the same trees that their grandparents and great grandparents did decades ago. Once the cork bark has been stripped or peeled from the cork oak tree, the cork “planks” are seasoned and stacked in either the forest or in factory yards for a period of six months to allow the cork to stabilize. The planks are then boiled in order to be cleaned, increase in thickness and improve flexibility and elasticity.
Wicanders Cork flooring is made from recycled pre-consumed cork, left over from the production of cork stoppers; 100 percent of the waste following the production of cork stoppers is used to manufacture cork agglomerate products such as flooring, wall coverings and other materials. Even cork dust and fumes produced during the manufacturing process are re-used as fuel power in cork flooring production plants.