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Giant Cork Eagle Lands At Eden Project

The RSPB is calling on supermarkets and other wine retailers to label wines to show the type of stopper used…

Choose cork is the RSPB`s message to wine and wildlife enthusiasts as it unveils a giant cork sculpture of a Spanish imperial eagle at the Eden Project in Cornwall. This magnificent bird, with a 12-metre wingspan and reaching a height of eight metres (larger than a double-decker London bus), is believed to be the biggest cork sculpture in the world. Created by Cornwall-based artist Robert Bradford from some of the 350,000 wine corks collected by RSPB supporters during 2001, the sculpture aims to raise awareness of the threat posed to the cork oak forests of Portugal and Spain by the increasing use of plastic stoppers and screw caps in wine bottles. The Spanish imperial eagle, with just 130 pairs in the world, is just one example of the rare and beautiful wildlife that depends on the cork oak forests. Others include the black vulture, the Iberian lynx and many common species familiar to people in the UK, including the song thrush, robin and blackcap, which use them during migration.Cork is a wonderful example of a sustainable industry, that benefits people and wildlife, said RSPB Conservation Director, Dr Mark Avery. The cork oak forests of Portugal and Spain are beautiful places where local farming communities and wildlife happily co-exist, and have done for centuries. Cork bark can be harvested many times over a long period, ensuring the survival of the trees and the cork industry, as well as the people and wildlife that depend on it. [Spain and Portugal have over half the world`s cork oak woodlands, and produce three-quarters of the world`s wine corks].The RSPB is calling on supermarkets and other wine retailers to label wines to show the type of stopper used so that people have the choice about what they are buying. Consumers can make a real difference by urging retailers to adopt labelling - so far, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Somerfield have all introduced labelling, and Tesco labels its on-line wines.The switch to plastic stoppers is reducing the demand for cork, and the subsequent loss of the cork oak woodlands. If current trends continue, the wildlife-rich oak woodlands could disappear within 20-30 years. Cork is biodegradable and naturally decays. It can also be recycled to produce many common household products such as memo boards, placemats, coasters, floor tiles, fishing rods and shoe wedges, as well as gaskets and insulation material. Cork oak trees survive without the use of chemical herbicides, fertilisers or irrigation and the cork regenerates after harvesting. Plastic stoppers are a by-product of the petroleum industry. Their manufacture requires a large input of energy and creates pollution. They are not biodegradable, and there is evidence that plastic stoppers are responsible for premature oxidisation of the wine, leakage, and may alter flavour. Dr Jo Readman, Education Director for the Eden Project said, Eden is a living theatre of plants and people and a platform for many voices. We are delighted that the RSPB are coming here during Wine & Cork Fortnight to tell us how using cork can help save endangered habitats and wildlife. The Eden Project is holding a festival of Wine & Cork Fortnight between 7 - 22 September 2002.

4th July 2014