Project motivation


Cork is a forest product of great economic, ecological and social importance for Spain, which ranks second in the world, both in cork oak area and in cork production. It is a renewable and sustainable raw material, with unique inherent properties that make it suitable for a wide range of applications.

Cork is not only used in closing wines, but also in different sectors, such as construction, automobile industry, textile, contaminants adsorption, etc. In these sectors, it is an alternative to fossil-based materials or non-renewable materials.

The use of cork contributes to the conservation of cork oak forests, which fulfill a fundamental ecological function by acting as carbon sinks, and by protecting soils from desertification and erosion. But in addition, cork oak forests contribute significantly to rural development in the areas where they are located, generating employment opportunities.

The European Union concentrates 77% of the world area of cork oak forests and controls 87% of the production of raw material. In Spain, these valuable forests occupy more than half a million hectares, representing 27% of the cork oak forests global area and produced on average 55,615 t per year during the period 2010-2020 with a slightly decreasing trend. This production comes mainly from Andalusia (60%), but also from Extremadura (28%), Catalonia (8%) and from other Autonomous Communities, mainly Castilla-La Mancha and Valencian Community.

The persistence of cork oak forests is threatened by scarce natural regeneration, aging of cork oak forests, the Iberian cork oak decline disease (ICOD), other pests and diseases, poor silvicultural practices, scarcity of professional and experienced workers for cork debarking, and the increment in the frequency and magnitude of forest fires. To this must be added a scenario of climate change with an increase in temperatures and changes in the distribution of rainfall, which directly affect trees growth and mortality, cork production in quantity and quality, as well as the incidence of the phenomena of the oak decline disease and fire risk.

The risks of climate change will be more pronounced in the cork oak forests resulted from the afforestation programmes developed in Spain during the period 1993–2000 as part of the EU’s Rural Development Programme, because many of these forests are located outside the optimal locations for this species.


Climate-smart forestry (CSF) can play a major role in mitigating this vulnerable situation for cork oak forests. CSF is a holistic approach to how forests and the forest-based sectors can contribute to climate-change mitigation that considers the need to adapt to climate change while taking into account specific regional settings. This means that forests can contribute to climate-change mitigation by going beyond the simplistic solution of conserving forests using them solely as carbon sinks.

CSF approach basis is the understanding that, in order to effectively enhance climate mitigation, efforts should be made to find synergies and minimize trade-offs with the other ecosystem services forests provide, such as biodiversity, cork or wood production and recreation. In this way, it would be possible to realize not only the Paris Climate Agreement, but also the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals gathered in Agenda 2030.

CSF is based on three main goals:

  • reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere
  • adapt and build the resilience of forests to climate change
  • and sustainably increase forest productivity and economic well-being on the basis of forestry.

The key idea behind CSF is that it considers the whole value chain while taking into account specific regional settings and focusing on three main pillars: adaptation, mitigation and social dimension.


To build possible climate-smart pathways tailored to the cork value chain circumstances, it is necessary to develop and improve tools to help decision-making for the sustainable management of cork value chain by ensuring the production of quality cork, the capacity to mitigate climate change and the resilience of cork oak forests. This Project aims to fulfill this need by a multi- and inter-disciplinary approach integrating forest management and monitoring, and the enhancement of carbon stocks, cork production and resilience to the IOCD, by taking into account different production systems and using geospatial techniques.

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