Cork oak forests make a major contribution to the preservation of the environment. The trees endure drought and place few demands on the nature of the soil. The cork oak forests, called “montados” in Portuguese, help regulate the water balance and protect the soil, thus preventing desertification. Because the cork oak is a long-lived and evergreen deciduous tree, cork absorbs a considerable part of carbon dioxide (CO2), that is primarily responsible for global warming, in photosynthesis. The Portuguese cork oak forests bind around 4.8 million tons of CO2 out of a total of 14 million tons worldwide. The annual CO2 emissions of a medium-sized car can be compensated with less than 1.5 hectares of cork oak forest.
The animals & plants of the cork forests
In addition to the large variety of plant species, cork oak forests are home to a number of unique and protected animal species, for example the wild cat, the Iberian lynx (the world’s most endangered big cat species), bird species and various eagle species (e.g. the stone, snake, Dwarf or hawk eagle).