Eco . Ethical . Sustainable

The Eco Page is dedicated to helping you learn more about your impact, and how to reduce it. Below are some recent blog posts you might enjoy.

What’s so special about cork?

Cork is mainly produced and exported from Portugal containing roughly 1.6 million acres of cork oak forest, representing 30% of the worlds cork. Cork oak forests are very important and precious ecosystems, one in particular being the cork oak forests of Montado.

The forests of Montado are amongst the most biodiverse ecosystems on our planet and are home to over 200 animal species and 135 plant species per squared kilometre. One of the most endangered felines; the Iberian Lynx (Linx pardinus) also calls this unique habitat home,  among others like; wolves, genets and wild boar.

SUSTAINABLE

RENEWABLE

MULTI-PURPOSE

Cork oak facts

Cork oak trees can sometimes grow up to 75m tall

75

Cork oak trees cannot be harvested until they are nearly 25 years old

25

Some cork trees have lived to 500 years old

500

The benefits of cork

Cork has many different uses from bottle stoppers to hats! Cork is exported to countries all over the world, being produced at 10,000 tons annually.  This large amount of export creates economical benefits for Portugal, but cork also has amazing environmental benefits too…

Environmental Social & Economical
Protects us from erosion, desertification and fires The cork industry provides a diverse range of jobs across many different education levels. For example, in the Montado itself there is bee keeping, livestock farming, forest management etc.
For each ton of cork produced, 75 tons of CO2 are sequestered by cork oak Montados. One cubic centimetre of cork contains 40 million air cells. Provides Portugal with trading opportunities and huge financial gain, as they produce 10,000 tons of cork annually
Provides valuable habitat for endangered and non-endangered species Cork is multi-purposeful, being used in bottle stoppers, instruments, furniture and even space crafts!

Cork harvesting

Harvesting of cork is one of the most well paid agricultural jobs in the world. This is because it is highly skilled and can only be achieved by hand. The main reason for this is that the cork must be removed from the tree without cutting the wood of the tree. If the wood is cut then a scar will form and no cork will grow on this part of the tree again. The harvesting is completed in 6 stages:

How does this link to sustainability?

The cork oak forests create lush environments for many species but the cork grown, is very sustainable. The  harvesting of cork does not kill or even damage the tree, provided it is done correctly. The production of cork is also considered to be very nearly a ‘zero waste’ industry because every single bit of the cork is used, even the dust can be burned for energy for the factory!

In terms of recycling, a cork product which has reached the end of its life can be ground down and glued back together to create a new cork product. However, at present it is only possible to recycle cork in this way if there is a system in place for the collection of cork. In the UK there is currently no way to recycle cork, unless in a home DIY project.

Sustainable goals

The protection of the Montado  showcases our movement towards the completion of some important sustainable goals. These goals include the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG’s). These goals are made up of 17 main issues which have been prioritised and categorised into 5 pillars: planet, people, peace, partnership and prosperity.

These goals (created in 2015) have revolutionised our movements towards curing the main global ills, and how we as individuals can work towards completing these goals as well. Allowing everyone to access these goals, whether it be through media or education is crucial if we are to improve our current global situation.

If you feel that you aren’t gaining enough knowledge or access to the SDG’S,  at university or within your community; speak to your lecturer or education officer to discuss implementation of the goals into your modules. In your local community get into contact with your local MP to gain insight into how you and your community can help contribute to the SDG’S.

SHOUTOUT4SDGS

SHOUTOUT4SDGS is another great  project that’s enabling the SDG’s to gain more coverage. Through an amazing organisations called Erasmus+, higher education students can partake in a trip to Hungary/Budapest to help develop, co-create and test existing sustainable development learning content concerning the SDG’S. You’ll also be exploring how we can explicitly link the UN SDGs to University learning modules.

Participation in these mobilities is free.  The costs of travel, accommodation and food are all covered by Erasmus+.  All you have to do is make your own way at your own cost to the UK point of departure.

To join the project you must be an undergraduate, postgraduate or 2019 graduate.  All skills and backgrounds are welcome – you might be an English student, a geographer, a physicist of a biologist – a historian or a sociology student (this list could go on…) – everyone has something to contribute and we’d welcome your views and input!

The mobility The project is a partnership between Ambios Ltd (UK) the Barn Owl Foundation (Hungary) and AmbiosPT (Portugal), as well as the University of Padova (Italy) and the University of Evora (Portugal).  The Universities of Southampton (UK) and ELTE (Budapest, Hungary) are also associated with the project.

If you feel like this would be a great opportunity for you to lean more about the SDG’S, network with industry professionals or enhance your CV,  click the link below.

Click here to learn more about the SHOUTOUT4SDGS mobility

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Thank you so much for reading and visiting The Eco Page, if you have any comments please feel free to leave them below.

Categories: Sustainability

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