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Towards assessment of cork production through National Forest Inventories

Pasalodos-Tato, Maria, Alberdi, Iciar, Cañellas, Isabel, Sánchez-González, Mariola
Forestry 2018 v.91 no.1 pp. 110-120
Quercus suber, cork, debarking, forest inventory, forest maps, forest stands, forests, national forests, trees, Mediterranean region, Spain
The economic importance of cork in the Mediterranean region demands an accurate assessment of its production. Cork production is currently estimated by aggregating information provided by Regional Forest Services, but this approach results in a lack of robustness at the national level. The objective of the present study is to analyse the role of the Spanish National Forest Inventory (SNFI) as a potential source of data for quantifying cork weight at national level and the scope of National Forest Inventory data to define national trends in cork yield as well as to characterize the main types of cork producing forest stands in Spain. Data from the Second and Third SNFI are used together with the Spanish Forest Map. The results point to the suitability of SNFI to quantify cork production as long as the two main variables defining cork weight, namely cork thickness and debarking height, were correctly recorded in inventories. Although the Second SNFI complied with these requirements, from the Third SNFI the methodology changed, preventing the accurate estimation of cork weight. Based on this study recommendations are made to improve the estimation of cork weight at national level, e.g. to measure cork thickness in all the cork oaks in the plot and to take a sample of cork from the inventoried trees. This information would also make it possible to assess the cork quality in terms of cork thickness growth and to classify cork production in terms of suitability for producing high quality cork products.