Cork oak forests cover approximately 2.5 million hectares primarily in seven countries: Portugal, Algeria, Spain, Morocco, France, Italy and Tunisia.
This tree has a life span of about 250 years. Each cork tree must be 20 to 25 years old before it can provide its first harvest of cork bark called "virgin". This type of cork has a hard and irregular structure. After extracting the virgin cork a new layer of cork starts generating.
A typical tree produces several hundred kilograms of cork at each harvesting and will survive for many generations. The cork harvesting is made in a sustainable manner and does not harm the tree in any way.
Cork production is assured with new plantations every year. Trees are never cut down or removed without strong government intervention, which prohibits this activity.
Portugal, which produces more than 50% of the world's cork, has been particularly careful with this resource. The first Portuguese regulations protecting cork oak trees date to 14th century.
With the increasing concern for the environment, cork oak remains the only tree whose bark can regenerate itself after harvest leaving the tree unharmed. It is truly, a renewable, environmentally friendly resource. Furthermore, the cork oak tree has the remarkable capacity to retain carbon and a harvested cork tree fixates almost five times more carbon. This exceptional characteristic makes cork a naturally sustainable product and its use contributes to the preservation of a unique habitat in the world.