‘Olive Alive’ LIFE-project coordinated by SEO/BirdLife has made it possible to implement and analyse the ‘Olive Alive’ agricultural model in twenty farms in Andalusia, in southern Spain, from 2015 to 2021. These new advances have favoured its continuation with ‘Olive Alive+’ LIFE-project (2021-2026), in order to study this model in depth in other areas of Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal.
‘Olive Alive’ agricultural model, which SEO/BirdLife is committed, has created a more diverse ecosystem in olive groves. In this way, olive groves have become more resilient to climatic conditions, including the characteristics of the dry and hot summers of Mediterranean. The practices of this agricultural model include management of plant cover, revegetation of unproductive areas of the estate and installation of elements to support wild animals in the environment, through ponds, drinking troughs or artificial nesting boxes. These practices have contributed to obtaining beneficial results, promoting diversity in the ecosystem, since they provide food and improve the habitat for local flora and fauna, creating a natural balance between different species present in the olive grove. It also facilitates the control of pests and diseases, improving the overall health of this agrosystem.
In this sense, ‘Olive Alive’ model has proven to be a highly effective solution to challenge faced by olive groves in Mediterranean basin during summer months, when high temperatures and low rainfall are the norm. However, despite the fact that Mediterranean Basin has optimal characteristics for olive growing and, therefore, olive tree and species that live there are adapted to summer climatic conditions, this period is becoming increasingly hotter and drier as a result of climate change, so that the plant’s physiological stress situation increases. In fact, as years go by, we are observing that summers are becoming longer and more intense, causing an effect both on health of field and on the production levels of olive groves.
Therefore, SEO/BirdLife developed its project to demonstrate that agricultural management practices of ‘Olive Alive’ will ensure that production model is respected and wildlife is enhanced, thus generating greater wealth for the rural world. Thus, by restoring biodiversity in olive groves and taking advantage of the services it provides, farmers will reduce their need for external inputs, helping to improve agricultural profitability. Furthermore, by implementing ‘Olive Alive’ protocol, the farmer would in turn be complying with the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) eco-regimes established for 2023-2027, and would therefore receive financial support equivalent to the management of olives groves.