Did you know? Cork oak trees are considered carbon fixers. What are carbon fixers?
Like other trees, cork trees convert CO2 into oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. However, they also sequester, or capture and store, additional CO2 each time bark is harvested and regrown. This is referred to as “carbon fixing”, as more CO2 is captured than your average tree, and can help combat high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Harvested cork trees are estimated to absorb 3 to 5 times more than unharvested trees. . This happens due to the extraction of the bark , which simulates growth of a new layer for protection, thus capturing more CO2 with each harvest. It is estimated that from the 2.3 million hectares of cork forests around the globe, 14.4 million tons CO2 per year are retained.
In 2006, it was calculated that the Portuguese cork forest alone was responsible for fixing 4.8 million tons of atmospheric CO2. This was equivalent to 5% of Portugal’s overall CO2 emissions. As this real life example demonstrates, just protecting existing cork forests is an easy and environmentally friendly way to reduce CO2 in our atmosphere.