The LIFE Project

This is an initiative to increase the profitability of the olive grove by recovering its biodiversity.

It is a demonstration project that will implement profitable and biodiverse olive growing models. Scientifically sustained models that will generate oils identified and certified by a trademark of added value.

This LIFE Project is financed by the European Commission and co-financed by the Communal Olive Grove Property Foundation with a total budget of €2,856,005. It is coordinated by SEO BirdLife and has the participation the University of Jaén and the Superior Council for Scientific Research as associates of the Provincial Council of Jaén.

Data sheet

Data sheet

Name LIFE14 NAT/ES/001094. Olive Alive. Toward the design and certification of olive groves reconciled with biodiversity.
Project acronym LIFE Olive Alive
Start date 1/10/2015
End date 30/09/2020
Coordinating beneficiary Sociedad Española de Omitologia. SEO/BirdLife
Associated beneficiaries Provincial Council of Jaén. University of Jaén. Department of animal biology, vegetable biology and ecology. PAIDI SEJ-315 group. Experimental Station of Arid Zones of the Superior Council for Scientific Research.
Co-financers Communal Olive Grove Property Foundation. Spanish olive oil market professional
Total project budget 2,856,005€
Contribution of the EU 1,713,603€ (60%)

Objectives of the project

1. Using scientific bases, define an innovative olive growing model with high demonstrational value, viable from an agronomic, economic and social standpoint, which contributes to halting biodiversity loss in the EU up to 2020 in an effective and proven manner.

2. Establish olive growing profitability formulas based on an added value that is visible to consumers (biodiversity), which contribute to halting the abandonment of the traditional olive grove or re-intensifying it, avoiding environmental costs (erosions, carbon footprint, pollution, excessive use of water and loss of biodiversity).

3. Develop a scientifically endorsed agri-food certification, that verifiably relates oil production and biodiversity recovery, and differentiate it from other initiatives that are based on a merely theoretical relationship between foods and biodiversity.

4. Show that the stakeholders´ venture, especially that of farmers, plays a fundamental role in the strategy of the EU regarding biodiversity, and promote their integration and active participation in said strategy.

5. Provide an effective solution to the economic and environmental crisis of the traditional olive grove that occupies the majority of the olive grove lands in Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal.

6. Improve the ecosystem services of the olive grove through actions of restoration and creation of green infrastructure in demonstration olive groves, and define restoration strategies that are technically, environmentally and economically viable and effective.

7. Contribute to the integration of biodiversity in EU agriculture and show that it is possible to harmonize the environment, the economy and the agriculture.

8. Provide verified, highly useful information to implement the objectives of the PAC 2014-2020, the payment for environmental services and the design of agro environmental measures.

9. For the citizens to know the socio-economic and environmental importance of the olive grove in the EU.

10. Show the role that citizens can play as consumers in the strategies to halt biodiversity loss in the EU.

11. Show that the integration of socio-cultural values in environmental values implies progress toward the multi-functionality of agrosystems and reinforcement for preservation strategies based on consumers being able to see their externalities.

12. Establish a path for development cooperation with other olive grove regions outside the EU.



Preparatory actions

A1 Selection of demonstration olive groves

Description: 20 demonstration farms were chosen in the first months of the project, distributed along the distribution range of the olive grove in Andalucía. The criteria for selecting them was based on the representativeness of the distinct typologies of the Andalusian olive grove with respect to size, landscape complexity and usage type.
Progress made: Signing with the 20 olive growers owning the farms participating in the project.
Status: Concluded.

A2 Study of the pre-operational state of the demonstration olive groves

Description: The purpose of this action is to evaluate the initial state of the biodiversity (both specie and functional) in the demonstration olive groves, before applying the preservation actions aimed at diversifying the landscape and agricultural management. Birds will be used as the main ecological indicators, and the analysis will be broadened to include flora (trees and bushes that form hedges and field flora) and insects (ants and pollinator insects). This action will be carried out in coordination with the Ecology Department of the University of Jaén and by the Experimental Station of arid zones of the CSIC.
The following indicators will be obtained from these studies:

  1. Indicators of diversity of species and functional diversity for each considered indicator group (birds, ants, pollination insects, woody vegetation, herbaceous vegetation)
  2. Combined biodiversity indicators (ICP) in the pre-operational state of each pilot olive grove.
  3. Diversity and connectivity indicators of the landscape (IDP) in the pre-operational state of each pilot olive grove.
  4. State of biodiversity preservation indicator (IC) (result of the integration of the ICD and the IDP).
Status: Under process of execution; this action will conclude in March, 2017Progress made: Biodiversity information of the 20 demonstration olive groves that participate in the project.

A3 Design of the integral communication plan and creation of the project´s image

Description: The Communication Plan will be a tool of great use, which will plan the strategy based on the project´s objective, establish the messages and specify the recipients and target audiences. It will also establish the lines of work and communication actions, both internally to strengthen the project´s associates, and externally to inform, draw awareness and provide the maximum visualization for the actions of the project. It will also serve to optimise resources and plan all the work with efficiency criteria.
Status: Under process of execution.

A4: Plans of action for promoting biodiversity in the demonstration olive groves

Description: Based on the results obtained in the study of the pre-operational situation of each one of the demonstration olive groves, which will be obtained through action A2, specific plans of action will be established that will establish the different measures to implement to improve biodiversity in each one of the farms.
The pre-operational situation will be detailed in the plans of each one of the demonstration olive groves, based on which the intervention objectives will be established, the actions to develop will be detailed, the specific location of the farm where they will be developed will be determined (including the production of detailed plans), the measurement of each action will be determined (linear hedge meters, habitat restoration surface, number and dimensions of troughs, etc.), the methodology for implementing the actions will be described, a specific budget for the actions will be defined and a term of execution of the measurement will be established.
Status: Under process of execution.

A5: Preparation of the volunteer fields for the implementation of the specific actions of preservation

Description: This action will serve to prepare the general volunteer program of the Olive Alive Project and to undertake all previous tasks that are necessary for the organization and development of the volunteer fields provided in Action C9.
Progress made: The 2016-2017 call for volunteers is currently open, and the first fields of work will commence in October of 2016.
Status: Under process of execution.
Specific actions of preservation

C1 Manejo de cubiertas herbáceas en los olivares demostrativos

Description: The maintenance of herbaceous covers in the olive grove plays an important role in the maintenance of biodiversity, in addition to providing ecosystem services both on an environmental level and an agronomic level. The herbaceous cover of the demonstration olive groves will be created through this action to favour biodiversity thanks to its positive action for the flora and their associated fauna, mainly anthropoid fauna, which will positively impact mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. The herbaceous cover will be managed for the purpose of regenerating the natural vegetation present in the seed bank of the soil. For this the chemical harvests that are conducted with herbicides in the demonstration farms in which this practice was used before their adherence to the project will be suspended, and it will be estimated in what farms it is necessary to conduct an initial tillage to favour the germination of the seeds present in the olive grove´s soil.
Progress made: Signing of custody agreements with the olive growers, in which they commit to manage the herbaceous covers.
Status: Under process of execution. This action will be carried out throughout the project.

C2 Creation of diversifying units of the landscape in demonstration olive groves

Description: This action will create diversifying units of the landscape through planting, recovering and restoring natural vegetation in demonstration olive groves.
These units will be created in unproductive areas of the olive grove, in such a way that they do not interfere with the habitual agricultural labours of the farm. It regards zones that maintained a vegetable community with a varying structure and composition, but which were relegated to increasingly reduced spaces through the mechanisation and intensification of the field to, in many cases, disappear as a result of a dynamic that was obsessed with “cleaning” the field, based on erroneous ideas such as that of these areas being a refuge for pests (vermin), or that they constituted the habitat for breeding and sheltering species that imply a plague for the crop. The main unproductive areas that we will be able to find in demonstration olive groves consist of boundaries or borders between farms, borders between areas of one single farm with a distinct plantation framework, roadsides, slopes and steam banks, embankments, areas with a high slope, rocky formations not suitable for the crop, surroundings of houses or sheds and strips alongside walls or fencing. Small areas of uncultivated forest are preserved in some farms, both high and low.
Shrub species and fruit trees will be planted in these units, and herbaceous will be planted or existing vegetation regenerated and restored.
Specifically the following actions will be performed:

  • Recovery of boundaries with herbaceous species
  • Recovery of boundaries with woody species
  • Planting of hedges
  • Planting of thickets
  • Restoration of habitat in natural vegetation areas

These units will imply the base for establishing a significant fauna community: inspects, spiders and other arthropods, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals will find shelter, food and breeding places in the new structures created in the demonstration olive groves. The herbaceous boundaries will be highly important, mainly for arthropods and as a place of shelter for reptiles and nesting for specific species of birds that nest in the soil, such as larks. Boundaries with shrub vegetation, hedges and thickets will provide a suitable area for shelter and breeding of small mammals such as voles or shrew, reptiles such as lizards and snakes, and for a diverse community of birds, allowing species adapted to shrub vegetation such as warblers or finches to nest, serving as a feeding point both for frugivorous species that will consume the fruits of the planted trees and insectivorous species and birds of prey. The restoration of areas of Mediterranean forests will imply a significant reinforcement to the functions of the previous structures, and will additionally facilitate the possibility of them being used by less specialized species in agricultural environments, or which need a different vegetation structure, in addition to facilitating the function of the olive grove as an area of connection between areas of natural vegetation.

Progress made: Execution of first plantings
Status: Under process of execution.

C3 Restoration of rural roadsides in demonstration olive groves

Description: A restoration of the roadsides will be carried out based on the re-vegetation of their lateral limits and slopes with indigenous vegetation of herbaceous species, and mainly shrub and tree species.
Planting will be carried out in the selected roads and sections, mainly of shrub and tree species similar to those used in the hedges described in action C2: Rosa spp, Crategus monogyna, Quercus spp, Rhamnus spp, Phillyrea angustifolia, Retama spp, Capparis spinosa, Jasminum fruticans, Osyris alba, etc. A smaller number of samples of fruit species will also be planted such as cherry trees (Prunus avium), almond trees (Prunus dulcis) or apple trees (Malus domestica), in those places where conditions allow it.
The recovery of these roadsides will allow valuable structures to be available for biodiversity, to the same extent that the hedges or boundaries are, since they are similar vegetation structures that will in turn attract a similar fauna community. The restoration or improvement of their connecting effect between different areas of the olive grove farms must be added to this function, as well as the possibility of the diversifying structures having a larger linear dimension than in other cases, due to the length of the roads. Ultimately, their re-vegetation provides diversification and connectivity on a landscape scale, where it is hoped for birds and mammals to be especially sensitive.
Progress made: Execution of first plantings
Status: Under process of execution. The planting labours will be carried out between the months of November and February of the first year of action in the demonstration olive groves, and the replacement of holes will take place during the following two years.

C4 Re-vegetation of the water network in the demonstration olive groves

Description: This action will be carried out in the rivers, streams, gullies and valleys of the demonstration olive groves. The margins of these river and/or erosive formations constitute unproductive areas within the olive grove, and are therefore areas susceptible to sheltering natural vegetation that contributes to the diversification of the landscape and increasing biodiversity. In addition to fulfilling the general objective of introducing diversifying elements that increase the biodiversity of the landscape of the olive grove, diffuse erosion is decreased through this action.
Vegetable covers formed by low-growing annual species and vivacious species will be installed in the valleys. The installation, in the manner of barriers perpendicular to the water flow, will be made in an intermittent manner, such that the barriers decrease the speed of the water in episodes of intense rain. Species such as Plantago albicans will be used, which forms a very fibrous thick strain that branches off forming grass, Plantago laceolata, a hemicryptophyte that forms a basal rosette Oryzopsis miliacea, which is distributed in clusters that can be harvested repeatedly, which is probably the best species for the areas with the largest erosive risk.
Shrub species with strong, deep roots will be planted in the gullies. Different species will be used based on if it is the slope of the gully or the base, differentiating between wet bases and dry bases. Species such as Jasminun fruticans, Rhamnus lycioides, Rosmarinus officinalis, Osyris alba, Capparis spinosa, Plumbago europea, Coronilla juncea, etc. will be planted in the slopes. In dry bases, preferably Pistacea terebinthus, Spartium junceum, Prunus spinosa, Colutea arborescens or Retama sphaerocarpa will be used. In wet bases species such as Bupleurum fruticosum, Glycyrrhiza galbra, Rubus fruticosum, Nerium oleander, Clematis flammula, Dorycnium hirsutum, Rhamnus alaternus, Sambucus nigra or Hypericum tomentosum will be used.
Planting will be carried out on the slopes by opening horizontal basins on the hillside, which allow water to be retained in the first weeks after the planting. The location of the plants will be determined by the dimension and geometry of the embankment, mainly by its slope.
In streams and continuous courses of water riparian species such as Salix alba, S. fragilis, Populus alba, Populus nigra, Fraxinus angustifolia, Nerium oleander or Tamarix spp will be planted.
In all interventions provided in this action, special attention will be placed on only using species of plants native to the area that is being worked in..
Progress made: Execution of first plantings
Status: Under process of execution.

C5 Adaptation of infrastructures of the demonstration olive groves to increase biodiversity

Status: En proceso de realización y elaboración de hoteles para insectosProgress made: Colocación de las primeras cajas nido.

Description: This action proposes the implementation of a range of measures provided to facilitate the reproduction of specific species of fauna in demonstration farms. It regards species that adapt well to the agricultural system of the olive grove, but whose establishment and breeding are currently very difficult due to the absence of buildings and other infrastructure that was common in the past, which has considerably diminished their populations and has even caused them to disappear in some areas.

The measures to execute are the following:

  • Installation of nests for barn animal (Tyto alba)
  • Installation of nests for lesser kestrels (Falco naumanni)
  • Installation of nests for ratchets (Coracias garrulus) and barn owls (Athene noctua)
  • Installation of nests for small passerines
  • Installation of nests for bats
  • Installation of hotels for insects
  • Construction of walls
  • Placement of mounds of stone
Status: Process of execution and elaboration of hotels for insects Progress made: Placement of first nest boxes.

C6 Adaptation of irrigation pools and construction of ponds and fountains

Description: Points of water will be adapted or constructed through this action, in such a way that they are easily used by different species of birds, mammals, amphibians and invertebrate. These points of water have key value in the ecosystem of the olive grove, since water tends to present itself as one of the main limiting factors, as normally occurs in Mediterranean environments.

Two types of actions will be taken:

  • Adaptation of irrigation pools
  • Construction of ponds and fountains

C7 Assistance in the production and marketing of Olive grove oils

Description: This action has two objectives: on one hand, that of ensuring the profitability of the trademark based on an adequate production and marketing strategy, and on the other hand, facilitating and improving the oil production and marketing process produced in pilot olive groves certified as Olive Alive.

Olive Alive reinforces the response to the growing demand of a quality product with added environmental values. Therefore, to ensure profitability and demonstration effect it is imperative to guarantee the quality of the Olive Alive oils, for this added value will reach a broader public if it is tied to quality oils. Therefore, it is necessary for the oils received under this trademark to also be associated with quality oils that additionally contribute to halting the loss of biodiversity.

For this reason it is imperative for the consumer, in addition to identifying the Olive Alive oil with the recovery of biodiversity, to also do so with quality EVOO. A quality oil produced in olive groves that preserves life would be a new product demanded by a much broader public.

The introduction of quality standards in Olive Groves does not imply an inconvenience for the olive grower that wishes to convert their olive grove into Olive Alive, but is rather an advantage, given that in the initiative of the olive growers that have become olive producers (one step prior to the Olive Alive certification) the production of high quality EVOO has always been an objective. In addition, the olive grower will always ensure that the oils that are going to share the certificate mark with their own meet said quality standards.

With respect to the marketing strategy that ensures profitability, an adequate promotion strategy is necessary that defines the strategic lines of marketing and communication necessary to successfully introduce Olive Alive into the market and increase their demand. To develop this strategic trademark it is necessary to define the product well, identify groups of potential consumers, analyse their needs to know them better and address their demands.

The following actions will be taken in matters of marketing to carry out this action:

  • Design and launch of the certification mark Olive Alive

Specifically, the graphic designing of the trademark and the selection of the symbol and/or logo will be carried out in this action, and the most suitable content will be analysed and selected according to the message that is intended to be evoked through Olive Alive.

  • Ad hoc market studies to analyse consumer behaviour

The purpose of this action is to analyse the level of knowledge and preferences of the objective public with respect to olive oils by conducting several market investigations. In general, several surveys will be conducted as base studies, with which the preferences and best manners to market the product will be studied (purchase intent, preferred place of purchase, disposition to pay, etc.) This information would be the basis of knowledge to orient all strategic and operational marketing in the launch of the oil produced under the Olive Alive olive growing model.

  • Actions of advising in the launch and marketing of the product Olive Alive

Periodic conferences and seminars will be held, in which the marketing problems will be presented at round tables and the actions (market studies, promotion and communication campaigns, movements of pressure toward the Administration, etc.) and strategies to follow will be determined. Given the contingent character of this type of actions, the realization of the same will be established based on the problems and opportunities that arise during the launch of the initiative. In addition, the possibility of having the collaboration of experts in the strategic field of agro-food product marketing who can serve as a reference for the Olive Alive Project will be assessed. It is convenient to clarify that the objective of the Olive Alive Groves certification mark is for olive oil producers to contribute to recovering biodiversity thanks to the changes in the productive model that the project proposes, and for them to do so through the incentive of the added value that the certification will imply. All economic benefits that are derived from the sale of certified olive oil as “Olive Alive” will return exclusively to the oil producers. Under no circumstances will the project benefit economically from these sales.

  • Definition of a Business Strategy and contingency plans

A Contingency Plan will be created based on the monitoring of the evolution of the impact of the certification mark in the market and the results of the market studies, which will contain a list of possible problems that may affect the sustainability of the model in the post-LIFE period and response strategies for the same.

Status: Action still not indicated

C8 Determination of certification criteria and procedure

Description: The trademark Olive Alive will certify the olive groves that are actively, efficiently and verifiably contributing the halting and reversing biodiversity loss in the EU. For this it will be necessary for the oil labelled with this trademark to proceed from olive groves that are making (in conversion to Olive Alive) or have made an effort to recover biodiversity and have increased it by a specific proportion. In other words, the trademark does not certify olive groves that already have a specific level of biodiversity, but those that have recovered biodiversity based on a percentage increase in the number of indicator species that live in said olive grove or use it to complete their cycle of life. An increase of effectiveness of Olive Alive is pursued with this criteria to halt biodiversity loss, for in any case the concession of the trademark will really imply rescuing biodiversity. The demanded effort will be variable and established objectively and quantitatively based on a biodiversity potential established for each type of olive grove based on the results of actions A2 and D1, which is determined by unmanageable factors (that is, which do not depend on agricultural management) such as their geographic location, their location in sierra, countryside or valley, the context of general landscape complexity that it is in, its own size, etc. In this manner, the worst conserved olive groves with low levels of biodiversity (with respect to their potential) in the pre-operational state will need a larger percentage increase to be certified than others that have been better conserved and shelter greater biodiversity. In any case, they must all increase their biodiversity in a way that the oils produced in Olive Alive have unequivocally contributed to rescuing flora and fauna species and to preserving said species while they are certified as such.

On the other hand, it is necessary to establish the procedure and protocols necessary for the conversion to Olive Alive and subsequent certification. It will initially consist of the following phases that will be reviewed and detailed according to the results that are obtained in the different actions that will have been implemented in the demonstration olive groves.

  1. Request for conversion to Olive Alive
  2. Elaboration of a restoration plan to reach the biodiversity objective
  3. Execution of the restoration plan
  4. Monitoring of the indicators
  5. Once the minimum threshold fixed for said olive grove is reached, the Living Olive Grove certification will be granted.
  6. Revisions of the biodiversity. At least the biodiversity threshold with which the certification was reached must be kept. (Number of species, density and reproductive success)

In addition to the oil being produced in olive groves that meet the required criteria with respect to the increase of their biodiversity, the procedure will also establish the quality criteria that the produced oil must meet.

The Olive Alive certification mark will be registered in the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (OEPM), and the procedure will be published in regulation format, which will be submitted to the approval process that the OEPM demands for the certification marks.

Status: Action still not indicated

C9 Development of the volunteer fields for the implementation of the specific actions of preservation C2, C3, C4, C5 and C6

The action will consist of the organization and development of work fields in the different demonstration olive groves. The voluntary services will be carried out between 2006 and 2008..

Description: The specific actions of preservation contemplated in actions C2, C3, C4, C5 and C6 will be executed through this action, which will transversally develop volunteer fields whose main activities will consist of the implementation of the measures fixed for said actions.
Progress made: Selection of the volunteers of the first three shifts and the development of the first volunteer fields
Status: The first volunteer fields began in October of 2016.
Actions that monitor the impact of the project

D1 Monitoring of indicators of biodiversity in the demonstration olive groves

Description: The purpose of this action is, on one hand, to evaluate the biodiversity achievements and improvements of the actions of preservation executed in the demonstration olive groves and, on the other hand, to provide the scientific bases for elaborating the certification protocols of olive grove oils that contribute to halting the loss of biodiversity. It ultimately regards responding to the following questions:

  • To what extend are preservation actions C efficient for recovering biodiversity (functional and specie)?
  • To what point does the efficiency of those actions depend on the landscape context, the size and the agricultural management of the development?
  • What levels of biodiversity recovery are necessary to obtain living olive grove certification?

For this, the following questions will be addressed:

  • Diversity, complexity and connectivity of the landscape, with special attention to the changes managed after 4 years in the pilot plots as a consequence of the actions taken.
  • We intend to gather this information through SIG, as in previous actions, whenever the orthophotos of Andalucía subsequent to the 3 or 4 years of landscape diversification actions (estimated for 2019-2020) are available. In any case, the transversal growth will be evaluated, as well as the height of the hedges, boundaries, etc. that have been installed, and also the coverage in the case of islands of thickets.
  • Biodiversity of field and woody flora, birds, ants and pollination insects.
  • Reproductive success of birds.
  • Networks of pollination and seed dispensing with special attention to changes that occur as a consequence of the actions.
Status: Action still not indicated.

D2 Monitoring of the evolution and profitability of the demonstration olive groves

Description: The accounting balances of the demonstration farms will be monitored during the entire process of conversion to Olive Alive in order to know the evolution in the profitability of the development, from the period prior to the start of the project to the last year of operation of the same.
Status: Action under process of execution.

D3 Monitoring of the impact of the certification trademark Olive Alive / Olive Alive in the oil market

Description: By this action information will be collected that serves to conduct an initial monitoring of the notoriety of the Olive Alive certification and the consumer´s level of satisfaction with the product. The evolution of this indicator will likewise serve to optimize the business strategy and guarantee the sustainability of the Olive Alive model in the post-LIFE period.
Status: Action still not indicated.

D4 Assessment of the socio-economic impact of the project on the local economy

Description: Information of all aspects of the project that impact the local population will be monitored and collected to assess their social and economic impact.

Social impact: Organization of activities and events. The organized activities will be registered and the participation of the local population in the same will be calculated.

Economic impact: The expenses of the project in professionals and companies of the different regions of the project will be calculated through the different planned external assistances. An estimation of the economic impact on the future of these tasks will also be made based on distinct scenarios or growth in the olive groves subscribed to the OOVV. The project will at all times try to give priority to local contracting for external assistance.

Status: Action still not indicated.

D5 Assessment of the impact of the project in the recovery of ecosystem functions

Description: An estimation of the ecosystem functions will be made from a human interaction standpoint, this interaction understood as that which is between the ecosystem function and its direct or indirect use by human beings as “ecosystem service”. The ecosystem services are defined as the direct or indirect contributions of the ecosystem to human well-being.
Status: Action still not indicated.
Communication and disclosure actions

E1 The development of the integral communication, disclosure and awareness plan

Description: This action will serve as a guide to optimize the local, national and international dissemination of the objectives, actions and results of the project and ensure that the actions of public communication, dissemination, awareness and participation necessary for the achievement of the project´s objectives are implemented in a coordinated, complementary manner with the best cost/benefit ratio.
Progress made: Participation in fairs, press appearances and audio-visual media
Status: Action in development.

E2 Information panels in the pilot olive groves

Description: Installation of 16 large external wooden information panels with key information regarding the objectives and actions of the project in strategic points of the pilot olive grove. The panels will be installed in the third year, in such a way that they reflect the evolution and achievements of the project. 1 panel will be installed for each demonstration olive grove (20 panels). The installed panels will additionally include the information to download the interactive routes designed in the framework of action E-10.
Status: Action still not indicated.

E3 Information and demonstration actions and perception surveys targeting the olive growing sector

Description: A series of information and demonstrations will be organized, in which the farmers responsible for the demonstration olive groves, together with the project´s technicians, will present the Olive Alive Project and will tell first hand their experiences throughout the process of the development of the project. The sessions will address the Olive sector, and will be structured in such a way that the participation of the audience is as active as possible, both when asking questions or doubts and when establishing their opinion about different aspects to be addressed.

On the other hand, perception surveys will be conducted to evaluate the receptiveness to the change of productive model that this project intends, which surveys will be conducted at the start (1st year) and end of the project (last year) to additionally measure if the execution and dissemination of the OLIVE ALIVE Project is promoting a change in said receptiveness.

Progress made: Execution of the first surveys.
Status: Action under process of execution (surveys).

E4 Recovery and disclose of olive-growing in the scope of the project

Description: In this action a series of actions are presented that are aimed at halting the deterioration and loss of the farming of the olive grove, in which the traditional uses and the attitudes of sustainable and multi-functional management that made the olive grove a more biodiverse environment are sustained.

The recovery and revaluation of these elements of traditional rural growing necessarily pass through the recovery of the memorate of the olive grove. For this it is necessary to provide initiatives and tools that serve as a seed so that, after finishing the project, it is the same inhabitants of the olive-growing regions who pursue this process of recovery, revaluation and disclosure of their rural growing through a bottom-up participative process.

To develop this action as a manner of demonstration, 4 municipalities representing distinct traditionally olive-growing regions will be selected. One located in the olive grove area of Sevilla and Córdoba, another in Jaén, another in Granada/Almería and another in Málaga.

Once the municipalities have been selected, the action will be structured in two phases:

  • In the first phase the sources of knowledge about olive grove growing related to the traditional use of this area will be identified.
  • In the second phase the school campaign “Stories of the olive grove” will be implemented.
Progress made: Selection of counties.
Status: Action under process of execution (selection of municipalities and search for sources of knowledge regarding olive grove growing).

E5 Publication of a recommendations guide based on the scientific results of the project

Description: A guide will be published that collects the most relevant results of the tasks performed during the 5 years of execution of the LIFE Project, with conclusions and recommendations addressed to the agrarian policy makers of the different administrations.

The recommendations will be based on the results obtained from the actions of preservation implemented through the specific actions of preservation, the effects of these actions on the biodiversity (action D1, the profitability of the olive growing developments (action D2) and the economy of the areas of study (Action D4). Recommendations addressed to the olive grove management for biodiversity recovery will be formed conducting an integral analysis of this entire group of results.

The guide will also analyse how the different recommended actions of preservation can provide incentives through different mechanisms and how the public administrations can support them by adapting the different support lines and subsidies available.

Status: Action still not indicated.

E6 Dissemination and proposal for inclusion of recommendations derived from the project in the PAC 2014-2020 and in the European Agricultural Funds for Rural Development.

Description: Both the results of the project and (especially) the recommendations provided in the guide (action E5) will be disseminated among the technical and political heads of the competent administrations on matters of agrarian and rural development policies, and also in environmental matters in the applicable cases.
Status: Action still not indicated.

E7 Network of municipalities for the Olive Alive

Description: This will consist of the creation and implementation of a network of municipalities that work collectively to improve the environment in the olive grove areas, focusing their efforts on the following priority objectives:

  • Promotion of olive grove management systems compatible with the preservation and recovery of biodiversity.
  • Promotion of cultural and social values of the olive grove rural areas.
  • Promotion of the touristic potential of the olive grove, focused on the knowledge of its culture and biodiversity.
  • Facilitate the dissemination of the results of the project.
  • Facilitate the dissemination of the results of the project.

The structure of the Network of Municipalities for Sustainability (RMS) of the province of Jaén will be used to create the network, which is coordinated by the Provincial Council of Jaén. The project will be presented through the RMS to its members and the objectives of the action will be presented in detail. The members of the RMS will be invited to join the Network of Municipalities by the Olive Alive (REMOV). In a subsequent phase two the rest of the olive growing municipalities of the rest of the provinces of Andalucía will be invited to join the Network.

Finally, a document of commitment will be signed, in which the city councils commit to the aforementioned objectives. The project commits to advise the city councils in the event that they launch initiatives related to the olive grove and biodiversity.

Progress made: First contacts with municipalities.
Status: Action under process of execution.

E8 Knowledge of olive grove growing. Experiential tourism in Olive Alive

Description: The purpose of this action is to provide the opportunity to know olive grove growing first hand.

It will consist of a demonstration experience that will be organized together with rural lodgings of the olive grove areas. It will be organized during the third, fourth and fifth year of execution of the project, each year in a different zone of the Andalusian olive grove, always within the surroundings of the pilot farms participating in the project.

In each one of those years, during the season with the most activity in the olive grove, the olive gathering period, an activities program will be elaborated that is oriented toward tourists. The collaborating lodgings will include these activities in their lodging offer. Different lodgings will be worked with in order to manage for 10 tourists to participate for each edition. The activities program will include the participation in some of the traditional labours of the olive grove during the gathering dates, in the knowledge of the olive´s growing cycle and of the olive production process, and in experiencing some of the traditions that surround this activity.

Status: Action still not indicated.

E9 Dissemination of the results of the project in scientific congresses and publications and in technical seminars.

Description: The first step in the dissemination of the results will be their presentation in some of the main scientific congresses and technical seminars of related subjects. For example, specific congresses such as the “International Conference on Sustainable Agriculture, Environment and Forestry (ICSAEF)” or general congresses of ecology in which related subjects are represented, such as the “International Association for Ecology” (INTECOL) which, for example, included the sessions “Applying ecological science to increase agricultural yield and sustainability” and “Biodiversity, ecosystem services and multifunctional landscapes” in 2013, or the annual congress of the British Ecology Society, which included sessions dedicated to “Insect pollination: land use, disease, pesticides and ecosystem services” and “Balancing food security and environmental concerns: challenges of sustainable intensification on land and sea” in 2012. The preliminary results obtained primarily from actions A2 and D1 would be presented in this type of congresses.

Once the definitive results of these actions is obtained, the objective will proceed to be published in scientific magazines. The planning of the studies described in these actions responds to sampling designs that meet the necessary requirements for a scientific analysis of the data obtained. In addition, the type of questions that these actions intend to answer are of great current relevance in the field of Agricultural and Environmental research.

Status: Action still not indicated.

E10 Design of interactive routes through e-applications

Description: At least 20 interpretative routes in the demonstration olive groves of the project will be designed. The trajectories of these routes will visit elements of naturalistic and ethnographic interest, illustrative examples of the actions of the project and representative sites of significant aspects of olive grove growing. The technical and physical demands of the routes will be low.

Once the trajectories are decided, they will be geo-referenced through GPS and the interpretative content will be designed. These will consist of brief explanatory texts combined with others that are more extensive, from which a recording will be created to subsequently provide a sound file with the content of the text. In addition, photographs will be taken for those points of the trajectory in which it is imperative to indicate elements of the landscape, which will be edited to include the location of the points of interest in the same.

Thereafter, a mobile phone application will be developed through external assistance, incorporating all of these elements.

Progress made: Design and development of the project´s web page.
Status: Under process of execution.

E11 Web page of the project

Description: This action contemplates the design, development and implementation of a multi-media web platform based on content management systems subject to EUPL license (free software), which disseminates information and provides incentives for participation and networking between the collective interests in the project. The web offers updated information regarding the project, dynamic informative content in Spanish and English, the possibility of executing online operations and downloading information in text, audio and video format; communication and collaborative work spaces.
Status: Under process of finalization.

E12 Publication in the Olive Alive guide

Description: The Olive Alive guide will be a guide oriented toward the olive grove sector. It will be explained in it what the Olive Alive certification is, what advantages obtaining the certification implies and what commitments it requires from the farmer.

The procedures for making the request to obtain the certification will be detailed, and each one of the necessary steps will be explained in different devices:

  • Previous sampling. The need for biodiversity sampling and indicators to establish the pre-operational state of the development to certify and the need for that sampling to be conducted by the certifying entity (Olive Alive Custodian) will be justified to guarantee the independence and objectivity of the same.
  • Elaboration of plans of action. It will be explained what a plan of actions is and what objectives these plans must pursue. The different recommended actions will be described, the effects achieved with each one of them and the best way to implement them, depending on the distinct typologies of the olive grove. The conditions of the content and form that the plan of actions must present will be established in such a way that both the farmer and independent consultants clearly understand what type of document they must present. The process of analysis and approval of the plan of actions will be described.
  • Execution phase of the plan of actions. The process of revision of the tasks described in the plan of actions will be described.
  • Sampling of results. The terms for the following samples of biodiversity indicators will be described.
  • Traceability analysis. It will be described how to ensure the traceability of the products produced by the development in such a way that the origin of the certified product can be guaranteed.
Status: Action still not indicated.

E13 Promotion of the Olive Alive trademark

Description: The achievement of a large part of the objectives and of the demonstrational value of the project depends on both the oil market and the general public knowing the project and the added values of the oils certified as Olive Alive. Therefore, apart from the dissemination of the project through the web page (E 11) and the demonstration and communication actions aimed at the olive grove sector (E3), it is necessary for there to be an action that defines and implements the best strategies, techniques and applications to successfully promote Living Olive Grove oils in the market and increase their demand. This action will support and complement action C7, and will conclusively contribute to ensuring the profitability of the oils produced in the pilot olive groves and the demonstrational value of the project.

This action complements action E1 (Development of the general communication plan). While E1 is focused on the general dissemination of the project, the coordination of the E actions regarding promotion of olive grove growing and the promotion of the demonstrating experience in the olive growing sector, this action is focused on promoting the products produced under the Olive Alive certification mark as a necessary tool for ensuring their commercial success and, therefore, the profitability of the olive grove management that preserves and recovers biodiversity.

Status: Under process of execution
Management and monitoring of the project

F1 Management of the project

Description: The project´s management will be the responsibility of the project´s director and coordinator.

The project director will provide the general operational guidelines of the project and for executing the actions. They will head the project monitoring committee, establish the coordination mechanisms with other projects in which the associates of the project are involved, represent the project when signing custody agreements of the territory and commercial agreements with processing or olive oil distribution companies, supervise the reports that will be issued to the European commission and represent the project in different forums (meetings, commissions, work groups).

The coordinator´s labours will include coordinating between the different partners of the project, coordinating in the elaboration of the reports for the European commission, assisting the project´s management, supporting in the drafting and signing of collaboration agreements or custody agreements of the territory, supervising the tasks entrusted to external assistance, a continuous relationship with the holders of the custody agreements of the territory, advising the beneficiary associates in executing their actions and in drafting technical and financial reports, coordinating all actions of preservation, supervision of the dissemination, communication and awareness tasks and assisting the rest of the project´s technical personnel.

Status: This action will be carried out throughout the project..

F2 Monitoring and evaluation of the project. Indicators and monitoring

Description: This action will identify and collect the indicators and other information necessary to complete the table of indicators that will be included in the reports of the project. These indicators will serve to correctly monitor and evaluate the project. For this the associates will identify the most suitable indicators for evaluating their respective actions and will issue them to the project´s coordination during the first 3 months of execution of the project. Based on the typology of the chosen indicators, the project´s coordination will establish the frequency with which these indicators will be reviewed to be able to continuously evaluate the project in a correct manner.
Status: This action will be carried out throughout the project..

F3 Financial auditing

Description: The execution of a financial audit of the project through external assistance is foreseen. A partial audit will be executed coinciding with the intermediate report and the full report at the end of the 5th year.
Status: Action still not indicated.

F4 Post-LIFE Plan

Description: A post-LIFE plan will be drafted in Spanish and English, which will describe and establish how the actions for disclosing and disseminating the results will continue at the conclusion of the project. In addition, in order for this experience to be replicated in other territorial, agronomic and social contexts, specific indications will be created regarding how to adhere to Olive Alive, and they will establish the bases for executing active campaigns to achieve adherence to the program throughout Andalucía and in other producing countries (Portugal, Italy, Greece, France).

The backbone of the post-LIFE plan will be the creation of a custodian of the territory made up of associates of the project and the owners or managers of the pilot olive groves that have intervened in the project.

Status: Action still not indicated.

F5 Networking with other LIFE and olive grove preservation projects r

Description: On-going contact will be maintained and information exchanged with other olive grove management and preservation projects, or those whose main objective is the integration of elements of biodiversity recovery in agricultural environments In addition, we are aware that the achievements of the project may extend to other agro-ecosystems widely spread across the EU, especially woody crops. Due to its mainly Mediterranean location, its extension and cultural, social and economic importance in the EU, and its long historic tradition, similar to that of the olive, the most immediate case of application is probably that of vineyards and wine production. The change in the production model that reconciles biodiversity and production and its transfer to a certification and labelling that grants it an added value is thus fully exportable to biodiversity and wine production. Other examples of replication can be apple-growers, cherry, almond and orange growing, etc., in some of which scientific studies and initiatives are already being carried out to rescue and preserve biodiversity and show that this is the key to promoting ecosystem services (especially pest control and disease control and the retention and fertility of soil).
Status: This action will be developed throughout the entire project.

F6 Creation and coordination of the participation and monitoring committee of the project

Description: A monitoring committee will be created that will act as a participation entity, in which the coordinating associate, the beneficiary associates, the co-financers and the owners of the demonstration olive grove farms will be represented.
Status: This action will be developed throughout the entire project.

Preliminary results of the project

Action Results
A1 Selection of demonstration olive groves Action completed. An experimental design and the criteria to select 20 demonstrative olive groves have been established, in order to have a representative sample of Andalusian olive groves. The objective has been to obtain statistically significant results, so that the olive farming model proposed has the highest possible demonstration value and ensures the highest degree of replicability.

In total, 20 demonstrative olive groves cover an area of 3,604 ha of land under stewardship.

A2 Study of the pre-operational state of the demonstration olive groves Action completed. In April 2016, biodiversity monitoring surveys started in the 20 demonstrative olive groves and in 20 control olive groves (40 in total). After a year of monitoring (final results still pending), more than 165 bird species of over 100 genera, almost 500 species of agrestal flora, over 140 species of woody plants and around 60 species of ants belonging to 18 genera and 3 subfamilies of Formicidae have been detected, some of them recorded for the first time at the regional level. Pending the analysis of additional factors, preliminary results show that the absence of a grass cover negatively affects biodiversity in olive groves, while keeping it enhances bird and soil insect biodiversity at different territorial levels.
A3 Design of the integral communication plan and creation of the project´s image Action completed. The communication plan is conceived to offer guidance in implementing the external and internal communication strategies of the Olive Alive LIFE project. The document identifies key messages, target audiences, channels and potential collaborators, as well as a working schedule with indicators to measure results. It is a document for internal use and especially intended for the project partners and co-financers. It will be regularly reviewed in order to maximise dissemination of the project among the target audiences.
A4: Plans of action for promoting biodiversity in the demonstration olive groves Action completed. Each of the 20 demonstrative olive groves has a tailor-made restoration plan to enhance biodiversity as much as possible. To this end, it has been necessary to conduct preliminary field work, literature reviews and the use of thematic cartography. Finally, every action plan includes the information gathered through biodiversity surveys. The actions proposed have been agreed with each land owner, jointly assessing the suitability of the works planned and their design, in order to adapt them to the management of each farm. In this way, feasible and appropriate action plans have been established for each set of circumstances. These plans are included in the Land Stewardship Contracts that comprise the commitments voluntarily set between SEO/BirdLife and the demonstrative olive groves’ owners.
A5: Preparation of the volunteer fields Action completed. In July 2016, the first volunteer call was launched and over 300 interested people submitted an application. In March 2017 and in June 2017 the second and third calls were launched respectively. The fourth call will be launched in January 2018. In total, 23 volunteer work camps and several ad hoc volunteer activities will be carried out. There is a previously defined Volunteer Work Plan that guides the implementation of the different campaigns.
C1. Herbaceous cover maintenance Action ongoing. An agreement has been signed with the company providing seeds, Semillas Silvestres Ltd. In November 2016, the first sowings took place: in total, 3,500 m2 of native herbaceous species have been sown. In addition, 17,000 m2 of barley have been planted in the inter-row spaces of the olive groves.
C2, C3, C4, C5 y C6. Conservation and restoration actions Action ongoing. The restoration works started in October 2016 and, as of January 2018, over 17,000 plants have been planted and more than 170 metres of knotted fencing mesh have been installed to avoid damages caused by wildlife or livestock. 7 ponds have been built to improve breeding success of amphibians, 14 water troughs for birds and mammals have been installed, 3,500 m2 of native herbaceous species have been sown, 91 nest boxes for passerines and 19 for barn owls have been placed, as well as 16 perches for birds of prey that include a nest box for barn owls or kestrels. 16 bat boxes have been installed, 88 metres of stone walls have been built and 186 insect hotels have been constructed and placed.
C7 Assistance in the production and marketing of Olive grove oils Action ongoing. Literature reviews on the relationship between biodiversity and consumption have been conducted since mid-2016. In order to move forward in this matter, on 9 and 10 February 2017 a workshop on biodiversity and consumption was held, with the participation of experts, researchers and entrepreneurs of the agri-food sector. During April and May 2017, a design competition was launched for the creation of the image of the Olive Alive guarantee brand and the winner was selected on 15 May. During June 2017, the first of a series of group discussions on biodiversity and consumption took place. Also in June, the questionnaire to be included in the multi-country survey for consumers in Spain, Germany, United Kingdom and Denmark has been completed. In this survey, respondents will be subjected to an experiment to evaluate the Olive Alive brand-symbol, in order to characterise European consumers based on their purchase behaviour and their awareness and involvement in halting biodiversity loss.
C8 Determination of certification criteria and procedure This action has not yet started.
C9 Development of the volunteer fields Action ongoing. The first volunteer work camps began in October 2016 and as of April 2018 20 volunteer work camps have taken place, as well as several ad hoc volunteer work activities, in all of which about 200 people coming from 10 autonomous regions and 11 countries have participated. The level of satisfaction of the participants regarding the Olive Alive volunteer programme has been very high, with an average score of 9.4 out of 10.
D1, D2, D3, D4, D5 Monitoring of indicators These actions have not yet started.
E1. The development of the integral communication, disclosure and awareness plan Action ongoing. The project was officially presented in April 2016, and since then several press releases have been issued that have enabled the appearance in media such as Radio Televisión Española, Canal Sur, Diario Jaén, Agencia EFE,  Mercacei, Olimerca and Oleoxauen and several radio stations and other general and olive growing specialised media. Among the TV news items and feature stories, it is worth mentioning the one broadcasted by the Agrosfera programme of the second channel of the Spanish Public Television (La 2 de Televisión Española), as well as numerous feature stories broadcasted on the Andalusian Public Television (Canal Sur). It is also worth mentioning the radio news stories broadcasted on SER, Onda Cero and Onda Local Andalucía. In June 2017, the first video report on Olive Alive was launched.
E2 Information panels in the pilot olive groves Action completed. In June 2017, the 20 project notice boards were placed at the demonstrative olive groves.
E3 Information and demonstration actions and perception surveys targeting the olive growing sector Action ongoing. During the first months of 2017, a sectoral survey has been conducted in order to find out what the olive growers’ perception is on the economic and environmental state of olive farming in Andalusia and on the Olive Alive proposal. 640 olive growers from 88 Andalusian municipalities of the provinces of Jaén, Córdoba, Granada, Almería, Sevilla and Málaga have responded. The preliminary analysis of the survey reveals that the great majority of the olive growers surveyed is fully aware of the environmental crisis affecting olive farming and the need to address the problem. The vast majority considers that an olive grove that is “more alive” is not necessarily less productive, and they would be willing to adopt measures to improve nature in their farms, including the management of the grass cover. The results of the survey, once the final analysis has been completed, will be presented during the second half of 2017. The survey will be conducted again in 2020, in order to find out the evolution of perception.
E4 Recovery and disclose of olive-growing in the scope of the project Action ongoing. The works to select four olive growing landscapes/regions to carry out these works and the municipalities within them started in mid-2016. The municipalities are Sierra de Segura -Arroyo del Ojanco, Torres de Albanchez-, Valle del Guadalquivir I –Martos, Torredonjimeno-, Valle del Guadalquivir II –Baena, Castro del Río-, Béticas Occidentales –Algodonales and Zahara de la Sierra. Information on specific persons and associations with knowledge regarding the cultural aspects of olive farming has been collected. This knowledge has subsequently been gathered in the Guide “Sources of knowledge of the olive growing traditional culture in Andalusia”. The first contacts have also been established with schools of those municipalities in order to develop the school campaign “Stories of the Olive Grove”. A preliminary work has been carried out to review the teaching material regarding olive farming and a list of contents has been created for the teaching unit “Olive Alive, a very close adventure” and the dissemination programme “Women and Men of the Olive Grove”. Work is also being done so that other teaching materials regarding olive farming might include contents on the importance of the olive grove to halt biodiversity loss. All this work will be shown in a documentary film that will be presented at the end of the project.
E4 Recovery and disclose of olive-growing in the scope of the project This action has not yet started.
E6 Dissemination and proposal for inclusion of recommendations derived from the project in the PAC 2014-2020 and in the European Agricultural Funds for Rural Development. Action ongoing. For the time being, five meetings of the “Olives” Civil Dialogue Group of the Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development (CDG Olives) have been attended in Brussels.
E7 Network of municipalities for the Olive Alive Action ongoing. The works to establish the final content of the “Manifesto of Accession to the REMOV” started in June 2016. Once an agreement was made on the content, the Provincial Government of Jaén sent the Manifesto to the municipalities of the province, so that it could be discussed at the plenary sessions. On 17 January 2917, the Provincial Government of Jaén organised an Open Day during which 45 local councils publically signed the Manifesto and joined the REMOV. Since then, more municipalities have joined the network and there are currently over 55 municipalities in the REMOV. Download the Manifesto of Accession and the list of municipalities.
E8 Experiential tourism in Olive Alive This action has not yet started.
E9 Dissemination of the results of the project in scientific congresses and publications and in technical seminars. Action ongoing. Although the project is still at an early stage regarding the delivery of solid results, seven events (conferences, seminars, etc.) have been attended so far.
E10 Design of interactive routes through e-applications This action has not yet started.
E11 Web page of the project Action ongoing. The project website is active and is an essential part of the communication strategy of the project. It is regularly updated and dissemination is increased through social networks.
E12 Publication in the Olive Alive guide This action has not yet started.
E13 Promotion of the Olive Alive trademark Action ongoing. The first phase of the empirical study has been designed, which will be the basis for the reports on the consumers’ behaviour and the marketing of Olive Alive oils.
F1 Management of the project Action ongoing. An organisation chart has been approved by all partners of the LIFE project.
F2 Monitoring and evaluation of the project. Indicators and monitoring Action ongoing. Progress indicators have been established for each action.
F3 Financial auditing This action has not yet started.
F4 Post-LIFE Plan This action has not yet started.
F5 Networking with other LIFE and olive grove preservation projects Action ongoing. This work started with a search for projects or initiatives related to the objectives of the Olive Alive LIFE project. The aim was to identify both project results and lessons learnt that could help to optimise the project’s actions, as well as to establish synergies to increase its demonstration value and replicability. Several LIFE projects and Horizon 2020 projects have been identified that have already been completed or are currently ongoing, with which relationships have been established. The results and lessons learned and as the projects’ methodological approaches provide a reference to compare results, improve the demonstration value of our project and optimise the design and development of the preparatory and conservation actions.
F6 Creation and coordination of the participation and monitoring committee of the project Action ongoing. The project’s Participation and Monitoring Committee has been constituted. The second and third committee meetings took place in December 2016 and on 29 June 2017 respectively.