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August 2002

Delve deeper into hot topics featured in NGM’s August Geographica with help from Resources. Click on a link, pick up a periodical, browse through a book, and explore!
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Save the Corks

Vintners using plastic stoppers in their bottles may have an unanticipated impact on wildlife. Spain and Portugal grow more than three million acres (one million hectares) of cork oaks, used in the production of traditional stoppers for wine bottles. For centuries cork farmers have tended the trees, harvesting the bark about every nine years. Seldom disturbed, wildlife living in and among the trees have been left to flourish. But conservationists now worry that the increased use of plastic, replacing cork in more than five percent of wine bottles, may depress the cork market and force farmers to clear the trees in favor of other, more profitable, but more disruptive, crops. To boost awareness, they propose that bottle labels indicate the type of stopper or that the wrapping from bottle tops be omitted.

Web Links

Cork Quality Council
Learn how cork is produced and about its relationship to the wine industry.

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Read how wildlife benefits from the cork industry.

Free World Map

Pohl, Otto. “A Defense From Portugal for the Noble Wine Cork.” The New York Times, October 14, 2001.

Smith, Malcolm. “Spanish Sorcery,” BBC Wildlife (March 2001), 64-68.

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