Wine Talk

Snooth User: CageyT

Cork advocacy from the ecological science community?

Original post by CageyT, Jun 24, 2011.

The cork vs. screwcap as a wine bottle closure argument/discussion has been done more than once on these pages.  My point here is to encourage some discussion around the merits (or lack-there-of) of arguments in favor of cork as an ethical choice, similar to choosing organic wines, etc.

The journalof the Ecological Society Of America published this article recently:

Mediterranean cork oak savannas require human use to sustain biodiversity and ecosystem services


Miguel N Bugalho1,2*, Maria C Caldeira3, João S Pereira3, James Aronson4,5, and Juli G Pausas6

Mediterranean cork oak savannas, which are found only in southwestern Europe and northwestern Africa, are ecosystems of high socioeconomic and conservation value. Characterized by sparse tree cover and a diversity of understory vegetation – ranging from shrub formations to grasslands – that support high levels of biodiversity, these ecosystems require active management and use by humans to ensure their continued existence. The most important product of these savannas is cork, a non-timber forest product that is periodically harvested without requiring tree felling. Market devaluation of, and lower demand for, cork are causing a decline in management, or even abandonment, of southwestern Europe's cork oak savannas. Subsequent shrub encroachment into the savanna's grassland components reduces biodiversity and degrades the services provided by these ecosystems. In contrast, poverty-driven overuse is degrading cork oak savannas in northwestern Africa. “Payment for ecosystem services” schemes, such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation and enhancement of carbon stocks (REDD+) programs, could produce novel economic incentives to promote sustainable use and conservation of Mediterranean cork oak savanna ecosystems in both Europe and Africa.

Read More:



So, there are some smart Snoothers (and opinionated ones too!) out there...what are your thoughts on this?

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Reply by GregT, Sep 17, 2011.

I feel pretty similar. I have a tiny backyard but somehow still manage to compost everything out of the kitchen. No food scraps or trimmings in our garbage. I try to do my little bit. If the cork producers were honest, I'd even have some sympathy for them. The important thing is to have the best product for the need. If it's cork, fine.  If it's not, too bad. That's life.

Saving jobs?  That's the LAST reason to decide on something. That's the Luddite way. There would be a lot more employment if everyone rode horses - we'd have people cleaning up the crap, hauling in the hay, grooming them, etc., but we wouldn't get things around quite so easily as we do with trucks and forget about ordering from Amazon and getting your package delivered free - the Pony Express wasn't cheap. Carrying that argument to its extreme, we should all be subsistence farmers and we'd ALL be busy all the time, but of course, some of us would probably starve once in a while.

So sorry cork producers - if your time has passed it's passed. Adapt rather than dig your heals in. Cork flooring makes perfect sense and it's an example of what they should be doing - i.e. looking for new markets. Arm and Hammer could have gone out of business as people decreasingly were inclined to bake. So they figured out how to convince everyone to put a box of baking soda in their fridges and life got a little better for them.

Reply by dmcker, Feb 13, 2012.

Saw this pressrelease last week, and figured I'd lob it up here to see if Greg or anyone else wants to take a swing. Doubt anyone watching on TV knew the difference....  ;-)



54th Annual GRAMMY Awards® to Serve Only Wines Sealed with Natural Cork Move is Part of The Recording Academy®'s Sustainability Program, On Site Corks Bins will Promote Recycling,
Published: Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012 - 5:12 am

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 9, 2012 -- /PRNewswire/ -- For the second consecutive year, natural cork will be in the spotlight at the GRAMMY Awards.® Maintaining its commitment to sustainability, the 54th GRAMMY Awards will host two events featuring wines sealed exclusively with natural cork and will recycle the closures.  Natural cork is biodegradable, recyclable and sustainable, and its use encourages the stewardship of cork oak forests that offset carbon pollution....

Reply by CageyT, Feb 13, 2012.

Isn't there a song by Michael Jackson about people like you, Dmcker... just got to be startin' somethin'...  ;)


Yeah, I saw it.   I am ok with it, too, which will come as no surprise.  Glad for the post--- this has become a nice and useful little archive on this subject.

Reply by JonDerry, Feb 13, 2012.

Very interesting, welcome news to me. I'm having a hard time believing the use of cork will be discontiued in my lifetime, but the debate is certainly interesting, and much like any other industry - the fact that there is fierce competition now to devise and promote the best possible closure for wine is a very good thing...

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