Cork oak forests cover approximately 2.5 million hectares across the Mediterranean region and most of them are located in seven countries: Portugal, Algeria, Spain, Morocco, France, Italy and Tunisia.
A typical tree produces several hundred kilograms of cork at each harvesting and will survive for many generations. The bark is stripped off the tree in sections by highly skilled men using special axes, a traditional manual skill that dates back many hundreds of years.
Cork is harvested on a sustainable basis and the stripping of the bark does not harm the tree in any way. The bark grows back completely, taking on a smoother texture after each harvest. A cork oak tree can be safely harvested up to 20 times during its life cycle, making cork a truly inexhaustible natural resource.
Amorim, the world leader in Cork Oak production, and Wicanders Cork Oak Floors, are proud of the environmental sustainability, recyclability, and reutilization of their stunning, all natural, Wicanders Cork Oak Floors. Cork oak is one of nature’s wonders, the perfect rare balance between the demand for coveted natural beauty and an environmentally conscious resource.
The Montados, the evergreen Cork Oak forests of the Mediterranean, flourish in an area protected by the Portuguese government. The growth, maturation, and harvest of each single tree are strictly regulated. Each tree is nurtured from seed and thrives without the use of any chemical herbicides, fertilizers, or irrigation. This method proves beneficial for the plentiful surrounding wildlife, the growing Cork Oaks, and the sustainable products they supply.
In the manufacture of Wicanders Cork Oak Floors, only the rejuvenating bark of the tree is harvested. During the harvest process, the bark is carefully hand sheathed and the Cork Oak tree left completely unharmed. In the Montados, Cork Oak bark is first harvested from a tree when it is considered to be mature, usually 25-30 years of age. The rejuvenating bark of Cork Oaks can safely be harvested up to 16 times during their 150-200 year lifecycle. The cyclical harvest of these majestic Cork Oaks occurs every nine years, and is a cultural tradition dating back several generations.
Once the trunk’s circumference has reached 70 centimeters, Wicanders Cork Oak is ready to be sheathed. Each plank of bark is removed by hand with precise care so that it does not split. The larger the planks harvested, the greater their value. Removal of whole planks depends on the skill of the workers.
After the first plank has been sheathed, then the procedure is repeated over the entire trunk. A record is then painted on the tree’s trunk to keep track of its last harvest.
While production of bottle stoppers is the main process for Cork Oaks of the Montados, it is important to Amorim that absolutely no part of the precious Cork Oak ever be wasted. Sheathes of Cork Oak that cannot be utilized in bottle stopper production are used as planks for Wicanders’ gorgeous flooring. Smaller sheathes, split planks, cork pieces, and even cork dust is utilized in the production of agglomerated cork products, including flooring insulation and unique pattern design. Cork bottle stoppers are also up-cycled, or remade in to other environmentally friendly products, such as insulation used in construction. The natural material used in Wicanders Cork Oak Flooring is both recyclable and biodegradable.
Cork Oak is friendly to our environment in yet another way. The thermal properties attributed to natural Cork Oak can reduce energy costs. Wicanders Cork Oak floors are proven to reduce thermal transfer by substantial amounts. Natural Cork Oak Flooring seems to have the warmth of its Mediterranean roots locked into every cell. In fact, Cork Oak is even used in aerospace applications because of its impressive thermal properties. Tests performed at the University of Valencia, Spain, have proven the insulating properties of Cork Oak. The study focuses on the thermal interaction between the foot and the floor, using an infrared camera to view thermography. Results show that Wicanders Cork Oak Flooring displaces less thermal transfer than wood, ceramic tile, vinyl, and even carpet. This unique cushion of Cork Oak warms each room better than any conventional floor covering material on the market.
As if the sustainability, recyclability, reutilization process, and energy conservation of Wicanders all natural Cork Oak Floors aren’t reason enough to select them to grace your floors, the beauty of these natural treasures is absolutely stunning. See for yourself our latest Cork Plank collection. And get ready, because in 2009, Nature’s palette will be in your hands…