Twenty demonstration olive groves totalling 3 604 ha were selected, spread over six of the eight Andalusian provinces: Ardachel, Siles (Jaén); Benzalá, Torredonjimeno (Jaén); Buenavista, Moraleda de Zafayona (Granada); Casa del Duque, Espejo (Córdoba); Cortijo de Guadiana I -traditional morphology-, Úbeda (Jáen); Cortijo de Guadiana II -intensive morphology-, Úbeda (Jaén); El Puerto, Pegalajar (Jaén); Finca la Torre, Bobadilla, Antequera (Málaga); Gascón, Marchena (Sevilla); La Tosquilla, Nueva Carteya (Córdoba); Llanos de Vanda, Castro del Río (Córdoba); Los Ojuelos, Marchena (Seville); Olivar de la Luna, Pozoblanco (Córdoba); Peña del Gallo, Puerto Serrano (Cádiz); Piedras Cucas, Torredonjimeno (Jaén); Quinta San José, Linares (Jaén); Rambla Llana, Quesada (Jaén); Rancho del Herrador, Prado del Rey (Cádiz); Virgen de los Milagros, Mancha Real (Jaén).
This action assessed the baseline state of biodiversity (both species and functional) in the demonstration olive groves, prior to the application of conservation actions aimed at landscape diversification and agricultural management. Birds were used as the main ecological indicators, extending the analysis to flora (hedgerow-forming trees and shrubs and arvense flora) and insects (ants and pollinating insects). This action was carried out jointly by the Department of Ecology of the University of Jaén and the Experimental Station of Arid Zones of the CSIC.
As a result of these studies, the following indices were obtained:
Biodiversity has been measured in the twenty demonstration olive groves and in another twenty that have served as controls, over the course of a whole year. For this purpose, different indicators have been analysed, and 165 bird species have been found (more than a quarter of those in Spain), 58 ant species (a fifth of those in the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands, including the Aphaenogaster gemella, a species that was considered extinct in Spain since the 1960s), 119 pollinators (in 8 of the 40 olive groves surveyed), 549 herbaceous plants and 137 woody plants (17% of the vascular flora of Andalusia and 8% of that of the Iberian Peninsula, including Linaria qartobensis, a new species discovered by science).
A very important biodiversity which, however, is marred by the great difference between olive groves, depending on the management of the vegetation cover and the location in which it is found (whether they are in homogeneous landscapes, where there are mainly olive groves and no compensation areas, or heterogeneous ones), with up to one in three species having been lost between them.
The project’s corporate image has been designed and implemented in an application manual, the project’s Communication Plan has been drawn up and updated, and continues to be adjusted as the project progresses, in order to optimise and exceed the expected results as far as possible.
In order to carry it out, work has been coordinated with the communication managers of the different entities involved in the project. Likewise, the first databases of journalists, communicators and disseminators have been drawn up in order to reach the project’s target audience.
The action plans for the twenty demonstration olive groves were drawn up, compiling information during visits to the farms, thematic cartography and orthophotographs. This information has been crossed with the results of action A2 and the design of the restoration actions was agreed with the partners UJA-E and EEZA.
A GIS database was elaborated with the available cartographic information and another thematic cartography was developed, specific for each unproductive area of each demonstrative olive grove and the potential areas for action. All the potential sites for biodiversity restoration and recovery actions were selected, and it was determined which action or actions were the most appropriate for each of the selected areas, depending on their different conservation objectives. Finally, the actions to be carried out within the timeframe of the LIFE project were selected from all the potential actions.
The preliminary proposal of the conservation plans was discussed with the different managers of the demonstration olive groves in order to explain the planned interventions. In the course of these consultations, the suitability of the actions was assessed from the point of view of possible interference with agricultural work, and the interventions that a priori aroused most interest among the farmers were sounded out. The meetings were also useful for gathering information on the possible locations of points of interest for restoration that were not identified in the mapping phase or during the field visits, such as water points or areas suitable for the construction of ponds. The owners also provided information on the use given to the different buildings and irrigation ponds, since, depending on their use, they may or may not be suitable for the implementation of conservation actions.
The main adjustments that were made following these consultations were in relation to some of the initial plans for the roads inside the farms. These presented problems of interference with the passage of machinery or with harvesting work. In these cases, the planned actions were modified or adapted to avoid these problems. Some of the proposals related to the restoration of the water network were also adjusted, especially when the actions were planned in gullies or areas with erosion problems in the interior of the cultivated areas.
During the first year of project implementation, information was collected for the preparation of the volunteer camps to be implemented within the framework of Action C9.
Available accommodations in the different areas of action were reviewed and the most suitable ones were selected, considering the location, the available facilities and the quality/price ratio. Meetings were held with several of these accommodations in order to get the best possible prices.
In the areas of action, places and activities of interest were reviewed in order to draw up the programmes of complementary activities for the different volunteer camps, mainly places of historical and artistic interest, sites of natural interest and visits to facilities related to olive growing (olive-growing museums, olive oil mills, EVOO tasting).
The general volunteer programme was completed in December 2016.
Subsequently, the first call for participation in the volunteering camps was launched through the Project’s website, the SEO/BirdLife website and through social networks (Facebook and Twitter). Eleven volunteer camps were organised between October 2016 and February 2017, with a total of 72 places. The call for applications was very well received (more than 300 applications) and all the places offered were filled.
La Sociedad Española de Ornitología es la entidad conservacionista decana de España. Desde 1954, sigue teniendo como misión conservar la biodiversidad, con la participación e implicación de la sociedad, siempre con las aves como bandera.
SEO/BirdLife es la representante en España de BirdLife International, una federación que agrupa a las asociaciones dedicadas a la conservación de las aves y sus hábitats en todo el mundo, con representación en más de 100 países y más de 13 millones de socios.
Es el socio coordinador del LIFE Olivares Vivos+.