Olive groves extend over nearly five million hectares in the EU and are one of the main crops in Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain. With nearly 1.9 million olive farms (Eurostat, 2007) the olive sector is a vital source of employment and economic activity in many European regions. In Andalusia almost 100 000 ha of olive groves are located in in the Natura 2000 network (RN2000). The ecological distribution of olive groves defines the limits of this ecological region. The olive has an important role to play in the conservation of biodiversity. Moreover, olive groves are a vital element of green infrastructure, connecting areas of high conservation value. Intensive cultivation of the crop, however, has led to the deterioration of this function.
The LIFE Olivares Vivos project aims to define an innovative model of olive growing with high demonstration value. The model will be agriculturally, economically and socially viable, while contributing to the halt in the loss of biodiversity in the EU by 2020. Specifically the project aims to: Establish profitability formulas based on an added value for consumers (biodiversity) to help curb the abandonment of traditional olive farming; Develop a science-based agrifood certification system linking oil production to the recovery of biodiversity; Show that stakeholders, especially farmers, have a key role to play in the EU strategy on biodiversity, and promote their integration and active participation in such a strategy; Provide an effective solution to the economic and environmental crisis that is affecting traditional olive farming; Improve the ecosystem services provided by olive farming through restoration actions and creation of green infrastructure in demonstration plots and define restoration strategies that are technically, environmentally and economically viable and effective; Contribute to the integration of biodiversity in EU agriculture and demonstrate that it is possible to harmonise the environment, economy and agriculture; Provide proven and useful information in support of measures to reach the objectives of the CAP 2014-2020, the payment for environmental services and the design of agri-environmental measures; Inform citizens of the socio-economic and environmental importance of olive farming in the EU; Demonstrate the role that citizens can play as consumers in strategies to halt the loss of biodiversity in the EU; Show that the integration of socio-cultural values and environmental values is a step towards the multi-functionality of agricultural systems; and Establish cooperation with other olive-growing regions outside the EU.
Expected results: An assessment of the conservation status of biodiversity in Andalusian olive plantations; Plans and science-based strategies for restoring biodiversity in different models of olive plantations; Proven methodology for assessing the contribution of olive plantations to biodiversity; 16 demonstration experiences (>2000 ha) in olive groves on the recovery of biodiversity; Ecological restoration of at least 2 000 ha of olive plantations ? for every 100 ha around 3 000 m of roadsides and 1 000 m of hydrological network will be restored, and the construction of at least 100 m of walls; 16 ponds/watering places for amphibians and reptiles created; 3 000 m2 of irrigation ponds for nesting waterfowl adapted; A value added Brand Olive Alive certifying a production model that recovers biodiversity; More than 1 350 000 litres of olive oil certified as ?in conversion to Olive Alive? and more than 600 000 l of olive oil certified as Olive Alive; 16 land stewardship agreements (2 000 ha) with olive farms; Increased number of species of flora and pollinators, including a more than 50% increase in the number of ant and bird species in 16 olive farms (>2000 ha); Proposed recommendations for the conversion of conventional olive farms to Olive Alive farms; An improvement in the local implementation of rural development schemes in olive farming areas; A proposal of recommendations to promote environmental improvement to the CAP in the olive plantations through payment for environmental services, the design of agri-environmental measures and orientation of the EU rural development to biodiversity conservation; At least 40 applications or 2 000 ha of olive groves to convert to Olive Alive; and A proposal of recommendations to export the results and lessons learned from the project to other non-EU countries where olive farmi