The LIFE Olivares Vivos+ project is launching work to restore biodiversity in some twenty farms

The LIFE Olivares Vivos+ project, as a continuation of the LIFE Olivares Vivos project carried out between 2015 and 2021, has undertaken work to recover biodiversity on the new farms where this agricultural model is implemented, which has shown that it is possible to reconcile respect for flora and fauna with production and profitability. A particularly important step given that, for the first time, environmental restoration interventions are also being carried out outside Andalusia.

From now on, these actions will take place in the olive groves of Extremadura, the Valencian Community and Castile-La Mancha, in addition to continuing in the Andalusian region. An achievement that also serves to commemorate World Olive Tree Day; an ephemeris celebrated every November 26. Thus, these new farms will be worth continuing to learn about the biodiversity of the olive grove and its evolution, but also to show the farmers of these autonomous communities, and those of other neighboring communities, the advantages that an olive-growing model that works in favor of nature brings. .

The recovery of the flora and fauna of the olive grove offers a whole series of services, such as the natural control of pests, the improvement of soil fertility or a greater capacity for the storage of rainwater. But, in addition, it allows the EVOOs (Extra Virgin Olive Oils) produced there to differentiate themselves thanks to the added value provided by the effective and certified recovery of biodiversity.

Plantation of wood species in Badajoz

The first farm in which these actions began was Valdearenales (Guareña, Badajoz). So far, 750 woody plants of 25 different species have been collected, which are planted in places previously identified by the Action Plan for the recovery of the biodiversity of living olive groves (PARB-OV). For this intervention, in addition, ecological, biodegradable and compostable protectors will be used, as well as natural reeds to support them, thus avoiding the use of petroleum products and the accumulation of waste that generates a negative impact on the environment.

The PARB-OV has been prepared by the technicians of SEO/BirdLife, the coordinating partner of LIFE Olivares Vivos+, specifically for this olive grove and, in the coming months, work will be carried out on improving the management of the grass cover. and, even, on its diversification through the punctual sowing of seeds in the streets of the olive grove. Finally, wildlife reception structures will be installed, such as nesting boxes, nesting boxes for bats, poles for birds of prey, water fountains or small basins.

Future activities of Olivares Vivos+ in Europe

This work will be carried out, in the same way, through the LIFE Olivares Vivos+, in other farms distributed in some of the main olive-growing regions of the European Union, not only in Spain, but also in Alentejo, Portugal; Tuscany and Lazio, in Italy, and Crete and Peloponnese, in Greece. Thus, 16 new farms have been added to the 20 Andalusian demonstration olive groves participating in the initial LIFE Olivares Vivos project.

In addition, 3 other new farms, located in the provinces of Almería and Granada, will be used to analyze the effect that climate change will have on this olive model. To carry out all these biodiversity restoration actions, teams of experienced workers will participate, promoting the creation of rural jobs.

Biodiversity measures continue

The development of the Living Olive Groves model responds to an operational design that is broken down into several essential phases, the first being a measure of the biodiversity with which the initial flora and fauna are known. Based on the information obtained after this census, the specific PARB-OV is prepared for each farm. Finally, a new measure of biodiversity is carried out to know the evolution of the bioindicators after the actions. Currently, the new farms are in the start-up phase of the PARB-OV, since the biodiversity measurements carried out in the field, since the spring, by researchers from the University of Jaén and the Experimental Station are quite advanced. (EEZA) of CSIC.

These studies were carried out according to scientific methods and criteria, similar to those carried out throughout LIFE Olivares Vivos (2016-2021). The results obtained in these analyzes have certified the high efficiency of the model designed to recover biodiversity. So much so that on average and in just 3 years, birds have increased their specific richness by 5.4%, while their abundance has done so by 9.8%; pollinators increased by 13.9% and 47.2%, respectively, and woody plants by 171.80% and 20%. Among the biodiversity indicators studied, only ants suffered a decrease in their richness (6.9% less); however, its abundance has increased (4.1%).

A recovery of biodiversity which, moreover, was much greater in the farms which presented the worst conditions at the start of the project. In addition, the analysis of these monitoring data indicates that the potential for increasing the diversity of flora and fauna, in these most degraded farms, can reach, in the long term, up to 40%. Likewise, during the censuses carried out, an ant considered extinct in the Iberian Peninsula, the Aphaenogaster gemella, was detected and a new plant for science, the Linaria qartobennsis, was discovered.

During the development of the ongoing LIFE Olivares Vivos+ project, the 20 demonstration olive groves with which work began in 2015 will continue on the agenda of scientific studies. In fact, from April next year, its biodiversity will be measured again to find out how the Olivares Vivos model behaves in the medium term.

LIFE Olivares Vivos+ continues its journey

Since 2021, through the LIFE Olivares Vivos+, work has been carried out to accelerate the dissemination of the model in the main European olive-growing regions, extend it to other products (such as table olives) and transfer it to other crops such as vines. This new project is developed by SEO/BirdLife, coordinating partner, the Provincial Council of Jaén, the University of Jaén, the Experimental Station of Arid Zones of the Superior Council for Scientific Research (EEZA-CSIC), the University of Évora , the agricultural and forestry cooperative DREAm-Italy, the agricultural organization Helena and Juan Vilar Strategic Consultants.

It is also funded by the LIFE program of the European Commission, co-funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development of the Junta de Andalucía and the support of the Interprofesional del Aceite de Oliva Español, the Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha and the Caja Rural de Jaén.

Living Olive Groves, a model of agriculture reconciled with life

Since 2015, and with the funding of two LIFE projects, Olivares Vivos has developed and implemented an innovative olive model born from the consensus between farmers, scientists and ecologists. Since then, he has reconciled the olive grove with its biodiversity and increased the profitability of farmers. Fue diseñado y probado en cuarenta fincas de Andalucía, levantándose sober la sólida científica base que aportan las institutions sociales de Olivares Vivos, del estudio más important realized en todo el mundo en torno a la flora y fauna del olivar y del análisis del mercado europeo del olive oil.

The Living Olive Groves model does not affect agricultural production and improves its profitability, since it reduces dependence on fertilizers or pesticides, adapts the olive grove to the environmental requirements of agricultural policies and, above all, incorporates the added value of recovery effective biodiversity in EVOO. In order to achieve this added value, certification regulations and a seal recognizable by consumers have also been developed which improve the positioning of the oils in the market.

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