Natural cork's disappearance hurts endangered species

As the world's vintners move away from natural cork — which some claim is responsible for "corking" spoilage of up to four percent of all wine — to synthetic stoppers, animal conservationists are sounding alarm bells about the future of the endangered species that thrive in cork orchards.

Two wildlife species, the Iberian lynx and the Iberian imperial eagle, are both seriously endangered, but can survive within cork oak forests. If the forests suffer, the outlook for these native animals will also worsen.

WWF estimates the Iberian lynx population has decreased some 90 percent in the past 15 years and population estimates range from 1,000 to only 150. It is the most threatened carnivore in Europe.