LONDON, July 17 (UPI) — The replacement of traditional cork stoppers in wine bottles by screw-cap tops is destroying forests and animal habitats, ecologists claim.
Cork suppliers and environmentalists say the change is threatening the 5 million acres of cork forests across Portugal, Spain, North Africa and Italy that are sustained through industry management, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.
The area includes the Montada forest, considered a “biodiversity hot spot” where some of the world’s most endangered animals live, including the Iberian lynx, the newspaper said.
“It is not just about cork, it is about a rich community of plants and animals that all rely on one another,” Rui Simoes of the Rainforest Alliance said.
Environmentalists say they fear that if farmers cannot profit from cork they will replant with non-native trees such as eucalyptus.
And cork manufacturers say 100,000 jobs could be lost as a result of the switch to screw caps, The Daily Telegraph reported.
Cork producers are pushing their stoppers as a “green” product.
“What other 21st Century produce other than cork is good for biodiversity, climate change and the environment, while also maintaining historic traditions?” Carlos de Jesus of the Portuguese Cork Association asked.
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