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Quercus suber
Cork oak

Cork oak (Quercus suber) is a slow-growing, medium-sized, evergreen tree found in the coastal regions of the western Mediterranean basin. The primary use of the tree is as a source of cork, which is obtained by peeling the bark away from the trunk. The cork is mainly used for wine stoppers, but other products also include insulation panels, floor and wall tiles and sound-proofing materials in the car industry. The first harvest of bark can be carried out after 25 years, with subsequent harvests every 9–12 years. The bark  serves as a measure of protection for the tree during forest fires and enables it to re-sprout from the stem after fire damage.

The cork oak is tolerant to areas exposed to both drought and heavy rainfall. It requires a mild annual mean temperature and prefers sandy and lightly structured soils. Forest landscapes with cork oaks are biologically diverse, which is why many cork oak savannas are protected ecosystems in Europe.

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Technical guidelines for genetic conservation and use

Quercus suber - Technical guidelines for genetic conservation and use for cork oak

Publication Year: 2008
Author: Gil, L.; Varela, M.C.

Genetic resources of cork oak should be conserved in several in situ populations representing the ecogeographic range of the tree. Each population should consist of at least 250 trees to ensure at least 50 reproductive trees.
The seed used to artificially regenerate large populations or to establish new ones should be collected from local populations or populations growing under similar edaphoclimatic conditions. However, seeds should not be collected for this purpose in years of low seed production.

In small and marginal populations, conservation activities should aim to promote regeneration to increase the population size. Where seed set is good, the main approach may be to protect the seed and seedlings from grazing and browsing animals. However, if the seed set is low, as a result of too few reproductive trees for example, seeds should be collected and seedlings raised in nurseries before being planted out in the location from which the seed was obtained.

[link: www.euforgen.org/bioversity/publications/pdfs/1323_Cork_oak__Quercus_suber_.pdf]

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