PEFC Certified Cork Campaign: The Way Forward
Cork is a natural product that comes from the bark of the cork oak tree, Quercus Suber L. Although cork use dates back to the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks, its modern-day use was reportedly pioneered in the mid-1600s by Dom Pérignon who used cork to seal his sparkling wine bottles. Cork is an ideal solution for capping bottles as it maintains its full sealing capacity for more than one hundred years.
The majority of today’s global natural cork production is based in the Mediterranean region, principally in southern Portugal (52.5% of the world’s production), Spain, France and North Africa. Some twelve billion natural cork seals are produced each year which if joined end to end would circumnavigate the world nearly eleven times over.
If managed appropriately, cork production is sustainable. Traditional production of natural cork is an environmentally sound process which supports the preservation of grassland forests, Mediterranean biodiversity, small scale agriculture, rural livelihoods, and fast-disappearing cultural traditions.
PEFC & Certified Cork
In light of its importance, PEFC International has been working with PEFC Spain and other partners to promote cork certification. This initiative looks at both ends of the supply chain – creating demand and awareness among wine producers and retailers about the benefits of using PEFC certified cork, and encouraging forest owners in Portugal, Spain, France and Italy to produce PEFC-certified cork.
In 2011 PEFC Spain signed a collaboration agreement with the Fundación Biodiversidad, under the Empleaverde Programme, and with co-financing from the European Social Fund, to take the initiative to the next level. Collaboration partners also included the Government of Catalonia and Corcho del País, a leading supplier of natural cork.
Through this initative, PEFC Spain looked to boost the cork industry by promoting awareness, and creating the conditions for sustainable eco-innovation and management of cork oak forests as a development opportunity for the cork sector in the green economy. This new phase of the project was launched at a reception featuring wines with PEFC-certified cork stoppers at the Bodega Santa Cecilia in Madrid in early 2012.
Following the launch, PEFC Spain arranged a host of seminars and workshops with the aim of approaching cork industry professionals, the media and artisans. One such workshop was “Quercus” which invited participants to create a vertical garden using PEFC certified cork stoppers. The corks were transformed into little flower points: a small hole was dug in every cork, filled with soil and then a little plant was placed inside. The result was a wall of plants.
PEFC Spain also produced a range of brochures, posters, guides and a video explaining the sustainable use of cork through forest certification. The video was filmed in several PEFC certified forests in Andalucía, southern Spain, illustrating traditional cork extraction processes, rural development, ecotourism, the benefits of sustainable forest management and the characteristics of cork oak forests and pastures.
This project was finished in December 2012 - however PEFC Spain will continue to work with the cork sector using their own funds.