A preliminary search was conducted to find projects and initiatives related to the objectives of Olivares Vivos LIFE project. This work was aimed at identifying both project results and lessons learnt that could help to optimise the project’s actions, as well as establishing synergies to increase its demonstration value and replicability. The database of funded LIFE projects was examined, with particular focus on those projects regarding the protection of biodiversity in agrosystems. The objectives and results of three of them were reviewed: LIFE07 NAT/ IT/000450 –Centolimed-; LIFE06 NAT/P/00019 -Lince Moura/Barros- and LIFE03 NAT/E/000052 – Albuera Extremadura-. All these projects worked on the enhancement of biodiversity in olive groves and implemented some restoration measures and some of them had already been reviewed during the preparation stage of the proposal. The study of these projects shows that, although the approach to biodiversity measurement in Olive Alive LIFE project is original, differentiated and addressed towards the achievement of very specific objectives, results obtained and lessons learnt, as well as the methodological approaches, were useful as a reference to compare results. This comparison will improve the demonstration value of the project and optimise the outline and development of the preparation and conservation actions.
The projects funded by the research and innovation programme (FP7, the current Horizon 2020) were reviewed using the European Commission’s portal CORDIS (Community Research and Development Information Service). As a result, several projects were identified, both finished and ongoing (AGFORWARD; OLITREVA, OVIPE; ENVIEVAL; GEOLAND), and more detailed information on their results has been compiled while, if they are still under implementation, their development is being followed.
Subsequently, other projects have been contacted, sometimes after a search for projects focused on a specific subject and other times after coming across them in different media.
OLIVE4CLIMATE LIFE project (LIFE15 CCM/IT/000141). Contact was established with the manager of the project, in order to cross-check the planned objectives in greater detail and to design the collaboration in the dissemination of results.
Commonland (www.commonland.com). We have established contact with the people in charge of the restoration project in the “Altiplano estepario” (steppe plateau) in southern Spain, and we keep in touch to exchange relevant information.
FIRE Foundation (www.fundacionfire.org). Our collaboration involves sharing information but also cooperating in the project “Sustentándonos” (“Sustaining ourselves”), funded through the “Emplea Verde” (Green Employment) programme of the Fundación Biodiversidad. The project includes courses on farm adaptation for more profitable and environmentally sustainable farming models. Several of the field visits planned took place in our demonstration olive groves. The courses were scheduled during the spring of 2018 in Almeria, Granada, Cordoba and Jaen.
LANDS CARE (www.landscare.org). Contact with this initiative was made during the drafting of the proposal and the early stages of the implementation of the project. The purpose was to collaborate in the development of an app regarding the self-guided routes of action E10. The work has not progressed according to the initial idea nor to the requirements of the project, so the decision has been made to develop the application independently. However, we still keep in touch and we’ll consider the possibility of integrating both apps if functionality is finally proved.
Spanish Association of Conservation Agriculture (www.agriculturadeconservacion.org). This organisation is our partner in the (Regional) Operational Group on grass covers. As such, their support in the demonstrative sessions that took place during the years 4 and 5 of the project within the framework of action E3 has been discussed.
Iberian Society for the Study and Conservation of Ecosystems (SIECE) (www.siece.org). We are in constant contact and collaborate in the release of barn owls (Tyto alba) through hacking at “Cortijo Guadiana” demonstration olive grove, which were scheduled during the spring of 2018, 2019 and 2020. A collaboration has been established for the placement of nest boxes for lesser kestrels, as well as for the subsequent adaptation of certain infrastructures in the demonstration olive groves. Both actions are included in action C5.
Endangered Species Rehabilitation Centres (CREAs) of Andalusia. In May 2017, the request was made for newly admitted barn owl chicks to be assigned to the release programme previously described. Although the request was accepted, no release was made in the end, as the chicks happened to be already fledged juveniles: the hacking process requires younger individuals that will stay in the hack box for several days. An extension of the agreement was requested on January 16, in order to have the admitted chicks during the spring of 2018.
Native Wildlife and Habitat Rehabilitation Group (GREFA). A collaboration agreement is was signed, establishing GREFA’s commitment to give up captive bred barn owl chicks (born to individuals that are not able to survive in the wild). In the framework of action C5, the project released them through hacking. This action has drawn attention to the decay of rural infrastructure associated to the olive grove, and disseminate information on the adaptation measures that can be implemented in buildings.
Coordinating organisation of farmers’ and livestock breeders’ professional organisations (COAG) – FEAL Project. This is an ERASMUS+ funded project that showcases examples of successful projects regarding European agricultural landscapes. We provided information on some of the Olivares Vivos farms to one of the partner organisations. This information was compiled to be featured as a study case in the meeting held in the framework of the project in Naklo (Slovenia) on 12-14 November 2017.
Food Standards Initiative and Biodiversity Standards and Lables for the Food industry LIFE project. This project promotes the inclusion of biodiversity criteria in seals, standards and certifications of the agri-food sector. We therefore held a meeting with Amanda del Río, a project manager in Fundación Global Nature who is in charge of the project in Spain. She gave us information about the work they’ve done analysing a large number of certification standards, among which 54 were thoroughly studied in order to assess the way each one of them promotes biodiversity protection. There is a commitment to inform and advise each other on certification (Food Standards) and biodiversity (Olivares Vivos) issues.
Macrotour. A collaboration has been established with this company, that specialises in the design and management of tourist packages and the organisation of events. They provided us advice on tourist packages (action E8) and assistance in the joint creation of a tourist package that was offered in the framework of this action.
Astroándalus. It is an astro-tourism enterprise that also certifies areas with favourable conditions for stargazing as “Starlight Reserves”. We are collaborating in the design of some of the activities included in the tourist packages that were tested in the framework of action E8.
Andalusian Institute of Agricultural and Fisheries Research and Training (IFAPA). A collaboration has been established to participate in the agri-food training courses that focus on olive farming. Action E3 describes the collaboration framework and the expected results.
Agroecology Resource Centre of the Regional Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development. There is currently a collaboration established to jointly organise informative sessions for farmers. The first of these sessions was held in March 2018. Action E3 describes this activity in detail.
Aula verde (“Green Classroom”) of the University of Jaen. It is an instrument of the Ecocampus project, which raises awareness among the University community and fosters new behaviours that are more environmentally sustainable. They are helping with the dissemination of the project activities, mainly volunteer activities. In addition, specific volunteer activities for Aula Verde have been designed
Technological Park GEOLIT. The park has transferred an olive grove to the project that is being used for dissemination purposes (see action A1). Furthermore, the main office and the warehouse of the project are located here, also under a transfer system. Thanks to our presence in GEOLIT, we are in permanent contact with different institutions whose HQ are also in the Park. Many of them are linked to olive farming, and we exchange information and occasionally collaborate with them: CITOLIVA Foundation, the plant health laboratory of the Regional Government, the Terra Oleum Museum, the IFAPA, etc.
Fundación del Olivar (Olive Grove Foundation) and Terra Oleum Museum. We collaborate with the Terra Oleum Museum, which is managed by Fundación del Olivar. As a result, we have given lectures to student groups visiting the museum, thus combining the visit with some of the lectures planned in the framework of action E4. Furthermore, the project volunteers who worked with us in the province of Jaen have also visited the museum getting a discount and an exclusive guided tour.
1st School Science Conference of Ubeda. A collaboration was established with the institutions in charge of the organisation (the local council of Ubeda and Te Kiero Verde, a private company). During the pre-conference activities, secondary schools taking part in the conference visited the experimental olive grove that Olivares Vivos has in the surroundings of the Geolit office. They were also given a lecture on olive farming, its environmental impacts and the Olive Alive project. Action E4 provides further information on the subject.
NASSTEC Project (http://nasstec.eu). We participated in the programme’s annual meeting, which took place in Cordoba between January 31 and the February 3, 2017. We keep in touch with Semillas Silvestres SL, a partner of the project that has been advising us on the use of native herbaceous seeds.
LIFE bioDehesa. Networking with this LIFE project started with a meeting held at the Animal Production Department of the University of Córdoba on 16 January 2018, with both projects’ managers and several officers. The goal of this work meeting was to share the indicators used in bioDehesa and Olive Alive LIFE projects to measure biodiversity (Annex F5-1). An article in an environmental magazine was prepared to disseminate the results of this collaboration. Both projects are working on the development and measurement of biodiversity indicators in the participating farms, keeping in contact and working jointly to integrate these insights into the results reports.
Terra Vida. This company has provided us with its product “Terracottem”, free of charge. “Terracottem” is a soil conditioner that makes the survival of seedlings easier, improving the use of soil water through water-absorbent polymers. The product has been selectively used in some plantings, using a scientific sampling, so that Terra Vida, in return, has obtained comparative data between plantings where the product has been used and those where it hasn’t, where planting has been done in similar conditions and in the same locations.
LUSH Ltd. It’s a cosmetics company that, in the framework of an environmental and social responsibility policy, selects its suppliers with strict environmental criteria. They got in touch with the coordinating partner SEO/BirdLife and asked for extra virgin olive oil suppliers to elaborate their products. Requirements were that the olive oil should be the product of organic farming, cooperative-based if possible, and that the farm would take part in environmental projects that could provide added value to the product. We provided the list of the project’s demonstrative olive groves that fulfilled those requirements and one of them was finally selected to supply olive oil for their production plants in the UK and Germany (demonstration olive grove Rambla Llana, which belongs to the cooperative “La Olivilla”). This collaboration is an example of other commercial outlets for olive oil and shows how a market sector rewards the environmental added value that Olivares Vivos brings to its products.
Work has been done with a particular focus on the Rural Development Programme and the creation of Operational Groups. The OGs that shared goals with Olivares Vivos were identified, and the coordinating partner of the project (SEO/BirdLife) helped draft a proposal for the creation of an Operational Group on grass covers in olive groves. This proposal was approved and the OG worked during 2018 and 2019. The main goal of the Operational Group was to test different types of herbaceous cover in the olive groves, including a mixture of different native species that is compatible with the crop. The aim was to assess their impact on issues such as biodiversity, crop production, different soil parameters, requirements regarding fertilisation and the use of other phytosanitary products, energy balance and biomass production (carbon sequestration). It also included an important set of training and information transfer actions aimed at olive growers. It was therefore an excellent opportunity to complement the work done by Olive Alive LIFE project with additional data regarding different possibilities of implanting grass covers. It was also a good way to multiply the dissemination of the project, given the joint organization of dissemination activities in the farming sector.
Visit to projects in Crete and Athens (Greece)
In September 2017, a trip to Crete was organised in order to participate in the “Climate Changing Agriculture” International Conference held in Chania. Following previous contact, two projects were visited, meeting the project managers and visiting some of the working plots to learn more about the initiatives. A commitment was made to share information and advice in the future.
- LIVE-CLIMA LIFE Project. This project ended in September 2017. Different farming techniques were tested to fight climate change and to adapt the crops to the new climate change scenario at an affordable cost.
- LIFE AgroClimaWater. The project is testing efficient techniques for the use of irrigation water in woody crops, specifically in olive groves, citrus and peach crops, as a tool for adaptation to climate change.
In addition, a meeting was held with representatives of both projects and other institutions such as Rodax Agro Ltd., the Soil and Water Institute of Greece, the University of Basilicata, the Institute for Olive Tree, Subtropical Crops and Viticulture of the Hellenic Agricultural Organisation “DEMETER” and Piraeus Bank. The purpose of the meeting was to assess the possible replication of the project in olive groves of Greece and Italy and the possibility of applying for a joint LIFE project in the next call.
During the brief stopover in Athens on the journey back to Spain, a meeting was held with representatives of the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS). The meeting discussed the content and development of Olivares Vivos, and a framework of collaboration was established for the dissemination of results in Greece, as well as for the future replication of the project.
Visit to projects in Italy
In 2018, we attended “Terra Madre” fair, organised by Slow Food Italy in Turin, us being the unique LIFE Project invited to give one of the conferences during the “Salone del Gusto”, which gave us the opportunity of networking. Subsequently, we visited several sites of the LIFE Project “Granatha”, which aims at restoring old heaths growing on high mountain areas, as well as the cooperative “Frantoio del Parco”, which has recovered a centenary olive grove located in the Natural Parc of Maremma using a land bank. We also contacted the LIFE project VITISOM, which studies soil microorganism biodiversity and seeks to assess the relationship between soil microorganisms and wine quality.
Finally, thanks to our partner UJA-E, we have being collaborating with the AGRABIES project of the National R&D&I Plan, which studies the influence of landscape complexity and fauna on the ecosystem services of olive groves and other tree crops in Spain.