Costa et al. (2004) referred to the cork oak, Quercus suber, as the "dominant species" of the southwestern Iberian Peninsula, "montado," agroforestry industry. This conclusion is supported by (1) the cultivation of cork oak in Portugal and Spain covering ~726,000 and 510,000 ha, respectively (Costa et al. 2004) and (2) the annual production of ~135,000 tons of cork from the Portugal cultivars alone, which reflects >50% of worldwide cork production (Costa and Oliveira 2001). The total hectares utilized in cork oak production has been estimated at ~2.7 million and includes, in addition to Spain and Portugal, farms in Algeria,
Morocco, Italy, Tunisia, and France (Figure 5.8). Cork oak habitats form a key ecological element of the regions in which they occur. As a World Wildlife Report (2006) stated, "These landscapes are one of the best examples in the Mediterranean for balancing conservation and development for the benefit of people and nature. They sustain rich biodiversity and traditional livelihoods." Indeed, the ecological setting of the cork oak forests can contain up to 135 species per square meter, many of which are the best known of the endangered animal taxa (e.g., Iberian lynx, Iberian Imperial Eagle, Black Stork; WWF 2006). Unfortunately, Q. suber habitats have come under increasing danger of extinction largely due to the changeover in the wine i ndustry from cork
Confirmed distribution Approximate distribution
250 500 kilometers _l_I_I
Figure 5.8 Distribution of the cork oak (Q. suber). The approximate amount of area occupied by this species is 2.7 million ha (map adapted from WWF 2006).
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