One of my favorite materials that we use for our parrotJOY toys is cork. Not only is it an excellent natural material for that provides your bird with hours of entertainment, it is also a sustainably harvested material.
First some background on the source of cork. Cork comes Quercus suber or Cork Oak. It is an evergreen oak tree that thrives in southwest Europe and northwest Africa. The tree reaches heights of 20 meters and produces acorns seated in a deep cup fringed with elongated scales. The cork oak forest is ecologically important to Mediterranean woodlands and supports a diverse ecosystem. In North Africa, these forests support the endangered Barbary Macaque and in Western Europe they provide habitat for the critically endangered Iberian Lynx.
Cork Oak is a pyrophyte, meaning it has adapted to tolerate fire. It produces a thick, and insulating bark, which means that it can withstand a certain degree of fire damage. This thick bark is where the economic use of this cork oak comes into play. Over time the tree forms a thick rugged layer of bark containing suberin (macromolecules that forms a protective barrier to water and solutes). This cork cambium can then be harvested every nine to twelve years to produce cork.
The act of harvesting the bark dues not harm the tree and it is done by hand without machinery. The trees are left standing and they regrow the bark that was harvested, making it a renewable resource. A cork oak commonly lives for over 200 years, and can be harvested once the tree reaches 25 years of age meaning that it can be harvested up to twelve times in its life. Obtaining the cork requires skill to not harm the tree and usually involves a team of five individuals using a small axe.
In Europe, 300,000 metric tons of cork is produced each year, making a 1.5 billion dollar a year industry. The main cork producing countries are Spain, Portugal, Algeria, Morocco, France, Italy, and Tunisia. Within these countries cork oak covers about 25,000 square kilometers. Portugual, where we obtain our cork for parrotJOY, accounts for half of the world’s cork harvest.
Though cork that is utilized for bottle stops, sporting equipment and flooring undergoes further processing, but the cork that we utilize for our parrotJOY bird toys is all natural and untreated. So when you purchase a Put-A-Cork-In-It, rest assured the cork used came straight from the tree without any chemicals or preservatives and also that the tree was not harmed in anyway in the harvesting process!
Rainforest Alliance. 2020. Species Profile: Cork Oak. [online] Available at: <https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/species/cork-oak#:~:text=Cork%20oak%20is%20found%20through,world%20leader%20in%20cork%20production.> [Accessed 16 September 2020].