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The Natural Park of Los Alcornocales

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Human influence and activity

In the province of Cadiz, Los Alcornocales encompasses the following municipalities: Alcalá de los Gazules, Algar, Algeciras, El Bosque, Jerez de la Frontera, Jimena de la Frontera, Los Barrios, Medina Sidonia, Prado del Rey, San José del Valle, Tarifa and Ubrique. The only Malaga province municipality found within the park is that of Cortes de la Frontera.

Los Alcornocales is an important source of natural resources as well as being home to a well documented human history and heritage. The existence of natural resources has led to traditional economic activities such as forestry, harvesting, livestock farming and hunting, all of which explain human presence in the area since prehistoric times.

Cork production:

Los Alcornocales account for 50% of the area given over to the production of cork in Andalusia, which in turn is the equivalent of 25% of the Spanish surface dedicated to cork oaks. It is in fact, the largest cork oak extension in the Iberian Peninsula, logically translated into the fact that cork extraction is the most important of traditional industries in the Natural Park, with an estimated yearly production of some 26,000 tonnes of fresh cork. The cork produced is however transported to the north of Spain and Portugal for industrial transformation.  

Cork was formerly used for the making of bee hives and other local handmade tools, and it was not until the 19th century when its production became more planned due to demand from the wine making industry. Cork bark removal takes place every year between June and August, with specialist teams moving from area to area to skillfully cut the bark from trees considered old enough and with the correct thickness, without harming the tree.

Livestock breeding:

Los Alcornocales is home to very large expanses for the breeding of livestock. In addition to a local breed of excellent quality meat producing cattle, the retinta, it is of great importance for the grazing of fighting bulls. Sheep and goat breeding is of lesser importance, although attempts are being made to reintroduce these species for the production of local cheeses.

Hunting:

Hunting constitutes a valuable income for the local population. For this reason, almost 70% of the land within the Natural Park has been classed as of special hunting interest, although most of this activity is organized on a private basis. The most popular species are deer and roe deer, although other animals such as wild boar are also hunted.

 

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