The area of cork oak in Castilla y León increases by 50% in recent years

3,000 hectares of pure or mixed cork oak plantations have been created through a Rural Development Programme implemented by the Junta de Castilla y León (regional government).

The programme, costing 5.5 million euros, has seen the creation of some plantations of pure cork oak (Quercus suber) and others mixed with holm oak (Quercus ilex).

At the beginning of March, the Head of Environment and Forestry Policies of the Junta de Castilla y León, Juan Carlos Suárez-Quiñones, visited the municipality of Valdelosa in the province of Salamanca to understand more about the current situation of its cork oaks, one of the most relevant of this region, by area and environmental value.

During the visit, the political leader highlighted the environmental value of this natural area and underlined the resources it generates. The work of maintaining and conserving cork oak, carried out by residents of the municipality, "can maintain a score of jobs that contribute to fixing the population in this rural area”.

The area of forests with cork oak as the main species has been estimated at 5,700 hectares in Castilla y León. This area is mostly restricted to the province of Salamanca and to a much lesser extent to the provinces of Ávila and Zamora. Occasionally it also appears in Burgos, Valladolid and León.

Within the province of Salamanca, the most important nucleus of the species is found in the municipalities of Valdelosa, Zamayón, Santiz and Valdunciel, although there are isolated masses in other areas of the province, for example, in the south of Salamanca, Quilamas, Herguijuela de la Sierra and Valle de Batuecas, also have cork oak of great ecological value.

Valdelosa has a total area of 6,357 hectares, 4,981 hectares of forest area (78.36%). The area of cork oak in this municipality is 1,761 hectares, which represents 35% of the forest area for the species.

This municipality has received several grants for reforestation purposes and support for the improvement of cork oaks. Between 1997 and 1999, the equivalent of 498,000 euros was invested in Valdelosa cork oak groves, to cover 480 hectares. These funds (which consisted of plantations, support for regeneration, firebreaks and enclosures) were framed in the lines of 'Forestation of Agricultural Lands' and 'Improvement of cork oaks', of the Programme of the Junta de Castilla y León, linked to the Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Further information, here.