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The sustainable management of forests, essential against climate change

Forest fires and climate change are two sides of the same coin. In Spain the climate emergency has already been declared and according to the report The planet is on fire of the independent international organization WWF dedicated to the defense of nature and the environment, the country is particularly vulnerable to these two phenomena due to the lack of investment in conservation policies, the abandonment of forest-related activities and the lack of prevention.

Sustainable management of forests

The Covid-19 pandemic has stopped most initiatives to fight climate change to focus all efforts on slowing the spread of the Coronavirus. The truth, however, is that the climate crisis cannot wait and the urgency of a change of model to combat it is more imperative than ever.

The so-called "sixth generation forest fires", less frequent but more devastating and uncontrollable than the rest, are attacking the entire planet generating ecological damage of incalculable value as is the case of the Amazon, the green lung of the Earth.

In this context of loss of biodiversity, the recovery of degraded forest areas and, at the same time, good forest management that ensures the regeneration of forest masses and reduces the risk of fires, is more necessary than ever.  The case of corks is a great example, since cork oaks (Quercus Suber L) are a particularly fire-resistant species, because its outer bark (the cork) is a natural fireproof coat, so when there is a fire the cork coat burns superficially but inside the plant is still alive. In addition, unlike other types of burned forest, cork oak can be inhabited within a few years of having caught fire.

These qualities of natural firebreaks, added to other environmental advantages of corks - regulation of the water cycle, reduction of erosion, environmental services... -, make evident the need to redouble efforts to recover abandoned forests and create forest structures that hinder the spread of the fire and facilitate its extinction.

An unextendable crisis

If we talk about the climate crisis, the cork sector also wants to be exemplary, because it generates a negative carbon footprint and contributes to mitigating climate change due to the fixation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In fact, it is estimated that corks retain up to 14.7 million tons of CO2 annually (Cork Information Bureau | 2019).

The concern for the climate emergency is also transferred to society in general, which calls for the transition towards an economy that makes responsible use of natural resources without prioritizing maximizing economic benefits at any cost and that promotes products that, like cork, not only do they not pollute but contribute to reversing the effects of climate change.

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