A GIFT FROM NATURE
150 Years of Sustainable Harvest
The cork oak tree enters in production phase only after 25 years of life, when the trunk reaches a 70 centimeters circumference. From then on, the cork can be harvested from the tree for on average 150 years. The cork extraction is a controlled process that does not require the destruction of the cork tree; on the contrary, it contributes to its regeneration.
The Life of Cork
The cork oak is an evergreen hard leaves plant. It is ten to twelve meters high with a trunk diameter of up to one meter. Only at the age of 25 a cork oak can be peeled or harvested for the first time. The bark then grows again within 9 to 12 years. The cork oak can become 250 to 350 years old, 150 years of which it is “productive” and can be peeled. The first harvest, which is known as “desbóia”, produces cork of a very irregular structure which is too hard to be easily handled. This is the so-called virgin cork which will be used for applications other than cork stoppers (flooring, insulation etc.) since its quality is far from that necessary to manufacture stoppers. Nine years later, the second harvest produces material with a regular structure, less hard, but still not suitable for cork stoppers – this is known as secondary cork. It is from the third and subsequent harvests that the cork with the best properties is obtained, suitable to produce quality corks, since its structure is regular with a smooth outside and inside. This is the so-called “amadia” or reproduction cork. From then on, the cork oak will supply good quality cork every nine years for around a century and a half, producing, on average, 15 bark harvests throughout its life.
Portugal’s Mediterranean Cork Oak
All our cork products are from Portuguese cork oaks, from sustainable forests. Portugal is a privileged country with 736 thousand hectares area of the cork oak. Beyond the river Tagus, The Mediterranean cork oak, Quercus Suber, is providing Portugal with almost 190 thousand tons of harvested cork, roughly 50% of the world’s production.
Traditional Hand Harvesting
The process for obtaining cork leather is extremely complicated and cost-intensive. Not only because the cork harvest traditionally takes place by hand, but also because it takes a series of processing steps to make it into cork leather. Thus, the previously obtained pieces of cork middle layers are only about 1.5 cm (0.6 inches) thick and are first assembled with a natural adhesive into large plates. In further steps, thin, very fine layers are then removed from these plates and applied to a cloth-like carrier material. Therefore, cork leather is sometimes referred to as cork.
Preserving Ecosystems & Local Economies
With an average age of 200 years, the cork oak tree serves as a central livelihood for people in Portugal over several generations. Today, about 25,000 people work in the Portuguese cork industry alone, and even more benefit from it. The use of cork is not only an important economic driver for the economy of Portugal, but also for the preservation of the Portuguese cork oak forests themselves and the associated complex ecosystem. The forests serve various, partly protected, animal species as habitat.
100% positive life cycle assessment
More than 14.5 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO²) are bound annually through the world’s cork oak forests. 4.8 million tons thereof, ie more than 30%, in Portugal alone, the largest cork producer in the world. The more than 736 thousand hectares of cork-covered areas in Portugal consume as much CO² as the annual output of around 1.6 million cars. Even better: A cork oak whose bark is harvested regularly, binds up to four times more carbon dioxide than cork oaks that are never peeled in their lives. This is due to the photosynthesis, in which all trees absorb CO² and then into organic tissue, including the tree bark, convert. The high age of the cork oaks favors this effect even further because they store the carbon dioxide over a, particularly long time. As a result, the active reforestation and use of cork by humans is more than a positive contribution to climate protection and results in an unbeatable eco-balance.
The large cork forests in Portugal and Spain are among the most important ecosystems in the world. For centuries, the forests have hosted countless plant species and well over 200 different species of animals and birds. Many of these creatures are considered protective and are in part threatened with extinction. These include the Iberian lynx and the imperial eagle, two of the most endangered species in the world. The partly centuries-old cork forests are an immensely important and natural habitat and form an exceptional basis for the diverse Mediterranean flora and fauna of Portugal and Spain. In addition, the forest areas reduce soil erosion, so the landscape does not quale, and regulate the natural water cycle within the forest ecosystem.
Only The Highest quality
Our cork leather is made from the best quality layer of the cork oak bark – which is the middle layer. Only this middle part meets the high quality and fineness requirements the manufacturer needs for our fine products. Cork bark is 100% used and processed after harvest, but only a few percents are suitable for our premium cork leather
- wear resistant
- antistatic (does not bind dust)
- Suitable for allergy sufferers (house mites and other microparticles cannot settle)
- dimensionally stable
- totally natural
- environmentally friendly
- impermeable to liquids
Many useful properties that benefit our products and make cork the perfect leather substitute. You, as the wearer, will benefit from a unique and sustainable material that is in no way inferior to the known leather. Cork is among other leather alternatives, such as pineapple leather or mushroom leather, one of the most natural and gentle alternatives for fashion and fashion products.In addition, cork is by nature a true all-rounder that does not stop growing. Its enormous regenerative power not only forms a perfect protective mantle for the trunk. But it also makes it a flexible, innovative and reliable companion for us in many areas of life. Hardly a tree combines as many positive qualities as the cork oak.