The Cork Oak, a Millenary Tree May 09, 2016 15:34

The cork oak (Quercus suber L.) has green leaves all year round (it is an evergreen tree) and has a very special bark – the cork.

It is included in the oak genus (Quercus spp.), a group of species with common affinities and origin. The cork oak belongs to a small sub-group that embodies European and Asian species– the group Cerris. The first trees identified as cork oaks occurred millions of years ago. Since then, several episodes of climatic change have taken place affecting the vegetation. Particularly interesting is the period that began around 1.8 million years ago –

the Pleistocene Age - characterized by alternating periods of extreme cold (glacial eras) with warmer inter-glacial periods. These events decisively influenced the geographical distribution and the genetic diversity of the cork oak. The cold forced the cork oak to take refuge in more benign climatic areas. At the end of the last glacial period, around 10,000 years ago, the cork oak colonized its present distribution area. Currently, cork oak occurs typically in the Western Mediterranean region, i.e., in the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain), south of France and the west coast of Italy, as well as in North Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) and the Mediterranean Islands (Sicily, Corsica and Sardinia). The total area occupied is currently around 1.44 million hectares in Europe and 0.70 million hectares in Northern Africa. More than half of this area is located in the Iberian Peninsula (Figure 1, Chart 1 and 2).

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Meet Daniel Michalik February 11, 2016 12:52

Daniel Michalik Furniture Design


Daniel Michalik, a Brooklyn-based designer, uses cork as his primary material in his furniture and product designs. When he found a supplier that was getting rid of a large amount of material that couldn’t be used anymore, Daniel bought 2,000 lbs of the discarded waste and started experimenting to see what forms could be derived from cork. What he has ended up with is a line of furniture and products that are beautiful and unique.

Cork is considered a sustainable product, made from the stripped bark of the cork oak tree which can live for over 200 years. The trees are not cut down; rather the stripped bark is harvested in intervals over the life of the tree. Much of the cork harvested today comes from Portugal and North Africa where the cork oak trees also provide essential habitat for a number of endangered species. When cork forests are protected and managed properly, the material is renewable and recyclable. While 60% of global cork production being used to stop wine and champagne bottles, there is a growing movement in the creative industry to use cork for its malleability and sustainability.


Cork and Natural Biodiversity January 17, 2016 10:25

The cork oak forests are home to a great natural biodiversity of wild fauna, with 24 species of reptiles and amphibians (53% of all Portuguese species), more than 160 species of birds, and 37 species of mammals (60% of all Portuguese mammals). The cork oak forests provide safety cover and nesting and feeding grounds for many species of wildlife.

The mammals found in cork oak forests include hares, weasels, wolves, genets, wild boars, deer and some Iberian lynxes – the cork oak montados and woods are the preferred habitat of this, the most threatened feline in the world.

The cork oak forests of the Iberian Peninsula are the ideal habitat for millions of birds, such as kestrels, little owls, black storks, eagles, Spanish imperial eagles, kites, black vultures, robins, thrushes, chaffinches and woodpeckers, as well as 60,000 grey herons that migrate here each year from northern Europe. They are also home to hoopoes and bee-eaters, skylarks, starlings, jays, magpies, nightingales, blackcaps and robins, chiffchaffs, nuthatches, sparrows and yellowhammers.

The Tawny Owl, a medium sized nocturnal bird of prey, with grey or reddish-brown plumage and large black eyes, is particularly abundant in cork oak and holm oak montados, and inhabits old trees with lots of holes, and oak trees. The Woodlark, a small lark with brown plumage, a short tail and vestigial crop, nests throughout the territory in a wide variety of habitats, such as open montado. The European robin, a small turdidae with brown plumage, like a bright orange “bib” covering the face and chest; one of the most common birds during winter, it frequents a wide range of tree formations, including cork oak and holm oak montados, cork oak forests, holm oak forests, olive groves, pines, and riparian forests.

Of the 51 Important Areas for Birds in Continental Portugal identified by the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA), 11 have significant areas (more than 1000 hectares) of cork and cork oak forests.


Iberian Lynx

Studies conducted in March 2005 found that there are only 100 surviving Iberian lynx, a number far below the 400 recorded in 2000. However, after a review of the Red List of endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, in June 2015, the Iberian lynx was no longer considered internationally as a critically endangered animal, though it continues to be an endangered species. In 2002, the situation was complex; the Iberian lynx was critically endangered and in Portugal, no specimen had been seen in the wild since the beginning of the 1990s. Portugal and Spain have joined forces for its preservation, and the number of lynx has tripled from 52 to 156 in ten years, i.e. from 2002 to 2012. Since then, in the Iberian Peninsula, the program to reintroduce the lynx has been stepped up, with five centres of breeding in captivity, one in Portugal and four in Spain. There are currently eleven lynx in Portugal.

In 2004, the League for the Protection of Nature, in partnership with the international organization Fauna & Flora, launched the Lynx Program to ensure the conservation and long-term management of areas with Mediterranean habitat, such as cork oak forests. One of the objectives of the program was to demonstrate that local economic activities, such as the exploitation of cork, may be compatible with the conservation of habitats and endangered species.

Among the TOP 5 of the most threatened and emblematic species of Portugal, the WWF highlights the Iberian lynx and the Spanish imperial eagle. 

The Dress: 100 Iconic Moments in Fashion May 27, 2015 13:16

A collection of the greatest moments in fashion history, beautifully illustrated by Megan Hess.

Fashion is an ever-changing, ever-inspiring beast; but there are certain dresses that capture a moment in history, the spirit of a generation and the indefinable energy of a fashion icon. "The Dress: 100 Iconic Moments in Fashion" is a collection of Megan Hess's illustrations of the most iconic dresses throughout fashion history that will continue to resonate with audiences and viewers in decades to come.

From the elegant, such as Audrey Hepburn's simple black shift or Princess Di's never-ending wedding dress, the quirky, such as Björk's Swan Dress or the Liz Hurley safety-pin dress, to the simply unforgettable—such as Marilyn's famous moment in white in "The Seven Year Itch". Interspersed with historical anecdotes, famous quotes, and scene-setting landscape illustrations which enlighten the reader of the social themes surrounding the fashion moment in question, this book is an elegant and immersive introduction to the moments that shaped fashion—and how fashion, in turn, shaped our lives.

Megan Hess is an international fashion illustrator who works with some of the most prestigious fashion designers and luxury brands around the world, such as Chanel, Dior, Cartier, Montblanc, and Tiffany and Co. She is the official illustrator for Bloomingdale's and completed the cover artwork for all of "Sex and the City" author Candace Bushnell's books and recently a private commission for Michelle Obama.