Los Alcornocales forest, Málaga, Spain
© Andrés M. Domínguez/Minde
A corking forest. Harvesting cork in Los Alcornocales
Los Alcornocales is one of Spain’s largest natural parks and is also home to the country’s largest population of cork oaks. This type of tree, the main source for most cork products, mainly grows in Mediterranean countries with plenty of sun and little rain. Cork is harvested once the tree is mature and it can then be stripped of its cork every decade. The trees are marked so as not to exploit the same ones repeatedly.
Los Alcornocales, between Cádiz and Málaga in southern Spain, boasts a variety of landscapes from steep and narrow ravines to thick, misty forests. There are also caves dating back to the Bronze Age here, including Tajo de las Figuras, sometimes called the Sistine Chapel of cave painting, not to mention several megalithic monuments and remnants of all sorts of later civilisations, thanks to its location at a strategic point between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.