Andalusia Expand Efforts to Reduce CO2, Promote Biodiversity

The Andalusian government has partnered with SEO/BirdLife to reduce the region's carbon footprint by expanding the Olivares Vivos project.
Cazorla, Andalucia, Spain
By Simon Roots
Feb. 15, 2023 15:23 UTC

Andalusia’s regional gov­ern­ment, the Junta de Andalucía, has agreed with the Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/BirdLife) to expand the pres­ence of the LIFE Olivares Vivos+ olive cul­ti­va­tion model to reduce the region’s car­bon diox­ide foot­print.

The regional Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development will pro­vide €200,000 in direct fund­ing for areas such as com­mu­ni­ca­tion and pub­lic aware­ness, train­ing and project man­age­ment in areas par­tic­u­larly sen­si­tive to cli­mate change.

According to the terms of the agree­ment, the min­istry will also be respon­si­ble for com­mu­ni­cat­ing the project results to the olive sec­tor and via sci­en­tific pub­li­ca­tions.

See Also:Andalusian Government Requests CAP Changes for Olive Growers

The agree­ment is part of a five-year ini­tia­tive to accel­er­ate the adop­tion of the Olivares Vivos model by more regions of Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy. The project is sched­uled to run until September 2026.

By the end of this period, the ini­tia­tive is expected to have increased the area occu­pied by Olivares Vivos-cer­ti­fied oil-pro­duc­ing olive groves by at least 10,000 hectares and to result in, amongst other ben­e­fits, a sig­nif­i­cant increase in bio­di­ver­sity, a decrease of at least 50 per­cent in pes­ti­cide usage, and a 25 per­cent increase in the net ecosys­tem car­bon diox­ide exchange across the new groves.

The Olivares Vivos cul­ti­va­tion model, based on research car­ried out by the ecol­ogy depart­ment of the University of Jaén and the Arid Zones Experimental Station of the Spanish National Research Council seeks to reduce the neg­a­tive envi­ron­men­tal impact of olive farm­ing while increas­ing bio­di­ver­sity.

This is accom­plished by intro­duc­ing non-crop native species; encour­ag­ing and main­tain­ing herba­ceous ground cover between trees; installing sup­port infra­struc­tures for fauna such as ponds, nest­ing boxes and fenc­ing posts; and restor­ing so-called unpro­duc­tive areas” in olive groves such as gul­lies, streams, tracks and walls.

Previous research has demon­strated that while all olive groves act as car­bon diox­ide sinks, those fol­low­ing tra­di­tional cul­ti­va­tion mod­els remove more than dou­ble the car­bon diox­ide equiv­a­lent from the atmos­phere per kilo­gram of oil pro­duced com­pared to those using high-den­sity farm­ing meth­ods.

Central to achiev­ing the initiative’s stated goals is the effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion of the ben­e­fits of the Olivares Vivos model to the olive indus­try and the pub­lic at large.

This is invalu­able if the model is to expand as expected, not least because the planned 7 per­cent annual increase in the mar­ket demand for oil pro­duced by cer­ti­fied groves would increase its eco­nomic via­bil­ity.

According to the Spanish gov­ern­ment, Andalusia, the largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing region by far and home to most of the world’s high-den­sity olive groves, is among the ter­ri­to­ries most at risk of severe envi­ron­men­tal dam­age caused by the shift away from tra­di­tional farm­ing meth­ods.


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