Spain’s 'Sea of Olives' Among the Candidates for UNESCO Recognition

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization will vote on whether to recognize the 1.5-million-hectare olive tree forest that stretches across Andalusia.
Apr. 29, 2021
Daniel Dawson

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The Mar de Olivos (Sea of Olives) is among the can­di­dates to become a UNESCO World Heritage site, accord­ing to María Dolores Jiménez-Blanco, the direc­tor gen­eral of fine arts at the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sport.

Sprawling over 1.5 mil­lion hectares across south­ern Spain, the mas­sive olive for­est serves as the eco­nomic engine for 300 towns and is a hall­mark of Andalusia,” Jiménez-Blanco said.

It is a land­scape, her­itage, life and cul­ture… which show all the relief and diver­sity of the region and rep­re­sent a great pat­ri­mo­nial her­itage of the past, present and future.- Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sport, 

While the vast major­ity of the Olive Grove Landscapes of Andalusia is located in Jaén, sig­nif­i­cant por­tions also cover the neigh­bor­ing provinces of Córdoba, Granada, Sevilla and Málaga.

After eleven years of plan­ning, Mar de Olivos — or The Olive Grove Landscapes of Andalusia, as it is offi­cially known — was first nom­i­nated for recog­ni­tion back in 2016 in a joint effort by the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sport, the Diputación de Jaén and the Andalusian provin­cial gov­ern­ment.

See Also: Spanish Olive Growers Replacing Century-Old Trees With Young Ones

According to Jiménez-Blanco, the for­mal nom­i­na­tion of Mar de Olivos will be made at a meet­ing next February with UNESCO set to vote on whether to rec­og­nize the cul­tural land­scape in the sum­mer of 2023.

If the des­ig­na­tion is approved, it will become Spain’s 49th World Heritage site and the ninth in Andalusia. Only China and Italy have more.

To receive UNESCO recog­ni­tion, a site must sat­isfy at least one of 10 dif­fer­ent cri­te­ria. In their appli­ca­tion, the three pro­po­nents of the project argued the Mar de Olivos meets at least four.

They said that the Olive Grove Landscapes of Andalusia con­sti­tutes a unique Mediterranean land­scape (cri­te­rion III) that demon­strates Andalusians’ abil­ity to intel­li­gently adapt to chal­leng­ing geo­graph­i­cal and cli­mate con­di­tions (cri­te­rion V).

They added that the Mar de Olivos is a liv­ing cul­tural tra­di­tion over the past two cen­turies (cri­te­rion VI) that has suc­cess­fully evolved to meet cur­rent cli­matic and eco­nomic chal­lenges (cri­te­rion II).

This idea [Mar de Olivos] forms a solid social fab­ric, becom­ing an excep­tional land­scape,” the Ministry of Culture and Sport said. It is a land­scape, her­itage, life and cul­ture. It is about super­im­posed his­tor­i­cal land­scapes, which show all the relief and diver­sity of the region and rep­re­sent a great pat­ri­mo­nial her­itage of the past, present and future.”





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