Effect of a Drought on Cork Growth Along the Production Cycle
Cork oak (Quercus suber L.) grows in the western Mediterranean region for which the most recent climatic scenarios predict higher temperatures and lower precipitation than usual values. Cork, the tree’s outerbark, is obtained under a sustainable management system and has a considerable economic importance for forest producers and industry. Cork’s specific set of properties allows multiple usages, from cork stoppers to insulating materials. This paper presents the first results of a dendroclimatological exploratory study about the effect of a severe drought in different moments of the cork 9-year production cycle, e.g. beginning, middle or end of the cycle. The results showed that the response of the phellogen (cork cambium) to the severe drought of 2004–2006 is independent of its age. In a mitigating strategy for the impact of the forthcoming more frequent drought events, and since cork growth decreases due to the reduction of water availability, forest managers should extend cork growth cycles and/or water cork oak stands. This is a way to ensure the production of cork with enough thickness to produce stoppers, thereby contributing to the overall sustainability of the cork sector in a climate change context.
KeywordsDrought Cork oak Mediterranean region Climate change
The research was carried out under the framework of Centro de Estudos Florestais, a research unit funded by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, Portugal (UID/AGR/00239/2013). Carla Leite acknowledges a Ph.D grant by FCT under the SUSFOR doctoral program (PD/BD/113937/2015).
The authors acknowledge the collaboration of Associação dos Produtores Florestais do Concelho de Coruche e Limítrofes (APFC) in material supply.
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