The montados (cork oak forests) are an important environmental, social and economic pillar in Mediterranean countries. They support a unique and fragile ecology which constitutes a habitat for rare and endangered species. They are the foundation of one of the 35 most important ecosystems in the world for preserving biodiversity - on par with Amazonia, the African Savanna and Borneo. Over 200 animal species and 135 plant species find ideal conditions for survival in the cork oak forest.
Perfectly adapted to the warm climate and arid soil, cork oak forests protect against erosion and resulting desertification. They are barrier against fire, due to the weak combustion of cork and undertake an important role in the regulation of the hydrological cycle. They also provide an essential contribution to the air that we breathe, by absorbing carbon dioxide, which without them would be released into the atmosphere.
Equally surprising is the fact that the cork oak increases its ability to absorb these gases during the natural regeneration process following stripping - a stripped cork absorbs, on average, five times more CO. The ability to retain carbon dioxide is also passed on to manufactured cork products, which continue to ensure this function to absorb CO.
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