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The Portuguese Montado (Cork Oak Forest)

From Portuguese Cork Association www.realcork.org

Like the vineyards of the Douro Valley or the Atlantic Forest in Brazil, cork oak forests are a very specific, delicately-balanced ecosystem and persist only in the Mediterranean basin (Algeria and Morocco) and particularly in the southern regions of the Iberian Peninsula influenced by the Atlantic such as Portugal, which is proud to have the largest area of cork oak forest in the world (730 thousand hectares, representing 33% of the world total). Considered a national heritage, cork oak forests have been legally protected for centuries (Decree-Law 169/2001). The trees may not be cut down and incentives are available for the planting and management of cork oak forests. This initiative, pioneered by Portugal, was clearly a good decision, since the harvesting of cork to manufacture cork stoppers has become an industry of great economic importance and Portugal has become the main international cork exporter.

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