WINE & SPIRITS
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Contrary to popular belief, though, cork production does not destroy cork trees. In fact, the bark can be harvested from the trunk for decades without harming the tree. The World Wildlife Fund has actually launched a campaign to help preserve the $329 million cork industry.
Cork oak forests flourish mostly because of cork production, which employs some 80,000 people along the Mediterranean coast. The trees provide a valuable habitat for such endangered species as Iberian lynx, black vultures, Barbary deer and millions of migratory birds—including kits, storks and cranes—as they fly to and from Africa.
Ah, the irony. Environmentalists are now urging a return to corks, a biodegradable resource that is, in fact, good for the environment. What's a green-minded oenophile to do? Rescue the Iberian lynx or get rid of cork taint altogether? I'm an old-fashioned girl. I like my Champagne with a pop. Let's risk a few bottles and save the vultures instead.