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Fires in the Algarve

Firefighters and soldiers battle Algarve fires as temperatures hit 45 degrees

 

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A bush fire a scene more and more common in Portugal.

You probably saw this on the news and we had to write about it. The fire has now spread across three councils and even the Reproductive center for the endangered Iberian Lynx was evacuated,

 
All lynxes are safe in Spain in another center, thankfully.
 
We just had to write about this because this is again, and again the same problem. The consecutive destruction of native trees in favor of the very profitable eucalyptus…
 
Portugal continues to be the third country in the world with more Eucalyptus, after Australia and India… now compare in size Portugal to Australia or India!
 
The problem with the Eucalyptus is that it’s a tree which it’s own nature is to burn, the so called “bush fires” are natural parts of the ecosystem this tree is a part of.
 
Trees like the cork oak tree are not so prone to burn, the cork bark itself is a fire retardant and not something readily flammable like the eucalyptus bark.
 
In Portugal though, there are huge lobbies at play here as this “invasive” tree is used to produce paper and guess what’s one of Portugal biggest exports? Paper…
And take a guess at where the fire started and what kind of tree continues to burn effusively? The Eucalyptus.
 
We are not going to name any companies, but the biggest paper companies in the world are based in Portugal.
 
And this is achieved by the constant destruction of ecosystems nationwide to plant the very flammable eucalyptus.
 
It is sad that when one travels through Portugal at some point the landscape is fulled Eucalyptus as far as the eye can see.
 
At Cork Crafts we believe in a fully sustainable future and we understand that this is only possible when we stop destroying ecosystems in favor of making a quick buck.
 
Your company may last a few years but what’s at stake?
 
Where will your paper company be in 100 years? 200 years? Specially now in the advent of the digital world and much of the world going paperless more and more?
 
But all is not lost.
 

There is a growing consciousness in Portugal, there are good people doing good deeds, understanding how important the native ecosystem is and planting cork oaks, fig trees, almond trees and so many native saplings.

So we will keep our hopes up that one day we can reclaim our ecosystem and we will stop having so many fires.

 
– Vasco Carto

 

 

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A typical view of a Montado where the cork oak grows and it’s bark harvested.

A change of use (for the blog at least)

We really did want to keep on with updates on the blog but it has been increasingly difficult with so many events we’re taking a part of. We are going weekly to Macroom, Ballincollig, Cork and many other places.

With this in mind and since you can find our daily updates in instagram and facebook (@corkcrafts.ie), we are going to use this space to divulge information about the uses of cork. The cork industry and it’s sustainability and general news regarding Cork Crafts and everyone that makes this project possible.

Stay tuned! 🙂

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The capital of cork country

We ended up spending a week in Lisbon and Lisbon is truly the capital of cork country.

From traditional coffee shops more than 100 years old completely covered in cork (sadly to wandering around Feira da Ladra and finding so many cork antiques.

Some of them where these spoons that we got:

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You can now see them at our markets. They are hand carved from cork pieces and the smallest one is actually sanded too.

Impressive skills that still exist in the heart of cork country.

In Cork Country…

We spent the last few days at a wedding in a town called Sobral de Monte Agraço. The name itself reffers to a wood of cork oak trees and the city’s crest features a cork oak tree

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The interesting thing about this place though is that it might not have ever featured cork oaks at all but actually the lands where the city lies was offered to a prominent family called the Sobral Family which was offered the hill where the city lies in the 12th century.

Nonetheless the crest and name are definetly a refference to a cork oak woods. 🙂

Today Sobral is surrounded by vineyards and is known as the heart of the wine from the Portuguese Estremadura or the Greater Lisbon Area..

The Day we Met The Whistler

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Yesterday we had the honor to meet The European Tree of the Year. The Whistler. The oldest cork oak tree at over 200 years of age.

There are no words that describe being next to such a magnificent  living organism and how it alone is an ecosystem in itself…

Specifications:

Name: The Whistler
Scientific Name: Quercus Suber L

Perimeter at Base: 5.24 Meters

Height: 16.20 Meters

Age: Around 233 Years

 

We also made a video a Facebook  live for it:

https://www.facebook.com/corkcrafts.ie/videos/2140166186202593/