The project was managed by the project manager and the project coordinator.
The project manager set the general guidelines for the operation of the project and the execution of the actions, was in charge of the project monitoring committee, established the coordination mechanisms with other projects in which the project partners were involved, represented the project in the signing of land stewardship agreements and commercial agreements with olive oil processing or distribution companies, supervised the reports sent to the European Commission and represented the project in different forums (meetings, commissions, working groups, etc.).
The coordinator’s tasks included coordination between the different project partners, coordination in the preparation of reports for the European Commission, assistance to the project management, support for the drafting and signing of collaboration agreements or land stewardship agreements. It was also responsible for the supervision of the work entrusted to external assistance, the permanent relationship with the holders of land stewardship agreements, advice to the beneficiary partners in the execution of their actions and the drafting of technical and financial reports. The coordination of all the conservation actions, the supervision of the dissemination, communication and awareness-raising work and assistance to the rest of the project’s technical staff were also under his responsibility.
After the signature of the Grant Agreement, the project was thoroughly reviewed and the most relevant actions and the approved budget were shared with all partners. The agreements between the partners and the co-financing agreements with Patrimonio Comunal Olivarero and Interprofesional were also processed.
A management chart for the management of this LIFE project was established and approved by all the partners in the second coordination meeting.
Numerous coordination meetings were held. In total, seven general meetings and more than fifty meetings between SEO, UJA-E and EEZA; between SEO, UJA-E and UJA-M and bilateral meetings between SEO and the rest of the partners. Likewise, there were meetings with the co-financiers, including the delivery of a report on the development of the project, which was presented on 12/01/18 at the offices of the Interprofessional and which was highly valued by its board of directors.
In April 2016, June 2017, February 2019, April 2020 and May 2021, the monitoring team (NEEMO) organised visits (in June 2018, accompanied by the EASME technician), while eight evaluation communications were received from EASME. With regard to the assessments and letters, the information contained in them was immediately shared with partners and co-financiers, analysing their content and establishing the appropriate measures following their instructions.
Then, the declaration of the state of alarm due to covid-19, the mobility restrictions and the ban on public events, made it necessary to ask for an extension due to the consequences on some actions. The actions directly affected were E3, C7, D3, E13 and E8. In addition, during the visit of the monitoring team in April 2020, it was already proposed to extend the data collection of action D1 until September to improve the information on pollinators and their associated ecosystem services. Finally, an extension of 8 months was requested and accepted by EASME on 26/08/2020.
This action identified and compiled the indicators and other information needed to complete the indicator tables to be included in the project reports. These indicators were used for the proper monitoring and evaluation of the project. For this purpose, the partners identified the most suitable indicators to evaluate their respective actions and submitted them to the project coordination during the first 3 months of project implementation. The project coordination established, depending on the typology of indicators chosen, the periodicity with which these indicators were revised in order to maintain a correct evaluation of the project.
With the participation of all partners, progress indicators were established for each action. The review date for each indicator and, where appropriate, the expected results were established. The system of indicators and the review programme established made it possible to meet the objectives of this action. In addition, the monitoring of these indicators allowed the project results to be updated and were very useful in the communication strategy.
The financial audit of the project was approached through external assistance. A partial audit was carried out at the time of the mid-term report and a full audit at the end of the fifth year.
A post-LIFE plan was drafted, in Spanish and English, which described and established how, at the end of the project, the dissemination and dissemination of the results will continue. Likewise, so that this experience can be replicated in other territorial, agronomic and social contexts, specific indications were given on how to join Olivares Vivos and the basis was established for active campaigns to achieve adhesion to the programme throughout Andalusia and in other producer countries (Portugal, Italy, Greece, France).
The main backbone of the post-LIFE plan will be the creation of a land stewardship entity made up of the project partners and the owners or managers of the pilot olive groves involved in the project.
There was fluid contact and exchange of information with other projects on olive grove management and conservation, or with the main objective of integrating elements of biodiversity restoration in agricultural environments. In addition, it became clear that the achievements of the project can be transferred to other agro-ecosystems widely spread in the EU, especially other woody crops. Probably the most immediate case of application due to its mainly Mediterranean location, its extension and cultural, social and economic importance in the EU, and its long historical tradition, along with that of the olive tree, is that of vineyards and wine production. The change in the production model that reconciles biodiversity and production and its transfer to certification and labelling that confers added value is thus fully exportable to biodiversity and wine production. Other examples of replication can be orchards, cherry, almond, and orange orchards, etc., in some of which scientific studies and initiatives are already underway to rescue and conserve biodiversity and demonstrate that biodiversity is key to boosting ecosystem services (especially pest and disease control and soil retention and fertility).
Prior work was carried out to search for projects or initiatives related to the objectives of LIFE Olivares Vivos. The aim of this work was to identify projects whose results or lessons learned could be useful for optimising the actions of the project and also to study the possibility of establishing synergies to increase their demonstrative value and replicability. Within the LIFE Programme, the database of financed projects was reviewed, paying special attention to those related to the conservation of biodiversity in agrosystems. The objectives and results of the projects were reviewed: LIFE07 NAT/IT/000450 -Centolimed-; LIFE06 NAT/P/00019 -Lince Moura/Barros- and LIFE03 NAT/E/000052 – Albuera Extremadura-. All these projects were related to the enhancement of the biodiversity of olive groves and some restoration actions. The analysis of these projects (some of them already reviewed in the proposal preparation phase) indicates that, although the approach to biodiversity measurement actions in LIFE Olivares Vivos is original and maintains a differentiated and targeted approach, the results and lessons learned from these projects, as well as their methodological approaches served as a reference to compare results, improve the demonstration value of this project and optimise the approach and development of preparatory and conservation actions.
Projects funded by research and innovation funds (FP7), now Horizon 2020, were also reviewed. The CORDIS (Community Research and Development Information Service) tool of the European Commission was used for this purpose. Following this search, some completed and ongoing projects (AGFORWARD; OLITREVA, OVIPE; ENVIEVAL; GEOLAND) were considered of interest and more detailed information on their results was collected.
Subsequently, contact was established with other projects, sometimes following a search for projects dealing with a specific topic, and sometimes after learning about them through different means:
OLIVE4CLIMATE LIFE project (LIFE15 CCM/IT/000141). Contact was made with the project manager to discuss in greater detail the objectives set and to propose mutual collaboration in the joint dissemination of results.
Activate your real wealth. Natura 2000 Network (LIFE11 INF/ES/000665) and the activities and projects derived from it in the post-LIFE phase. In addition to maintaining continuous contact with those responsible for the project, as it has been a project coordinated, like Olivares Vivos, by SEO/BirdLife, we participate in the project «Promotion of sustainable agriculture models in the Natura 2000 Network for the conservation of biodiversity». During the Natura 2000 network day (21 May), open days were organised in agricultural and livestock farms located in RN2000. One of the 4 farms participating in this day in Spain was one of the demonstration olive groves located in RN2000.
Commonland (http://www.commonland.com). We established contact with those responsible for the restoration project in the Altiplano steppe of Spain and maintained contact to exchange information of interest on a reciprocal basis.
FIRE Foundation (www.fundacionfire.org). We shared information between the organisations and collaborated in the project «Sustentándonos», from the Emplea Verde call for proposals (grants from the Fundación Biodiversidad). The project included courses on adapting farms towards more profitable and environmentally sustainable development models. In several of these courses, practical visits to learn about ongoing initiatives took place in our demonstration olive groves. The courses were organised during the spring of 2018 in Almeria, Granada, Cordoba and Jaen. In addition, some farms in Ciudad Real were also visited, where they implemented restoration actions in olive groves as part of their «Campos de Vida» project.
LANDS CARE (http://www.landscare.org). This initiative was contacted in the proposal drafting phase and in the early stages of project implementation with the idea of collaborating in the development of the application for the self-guided routes of action E10. The evolution of the application that was initially thought of as a possible tool to implement the routes was not developed in accordance with the needs of the project, so it was finally decided to develop the application independently. However, we maintained contact and the possibility of incorporating both applications was considered.
Spanish Association of Conservation Agriculture (http://www.agriculturadeconservacion.org). We participated with this organisation in the herbaceous cover task force and had their support in the demonstration sessions that took place during years 4 and 5 of the project (within action E3).
SIECE (http://www.siece.org). We maintain continuous contact and we have their collaboration for the organisation of the release of owls (Tyto alba) using the hacking technique in the «Cortijo Guadiana» demonstration olive grove, initially planned for the spring of 2018. It also collaborated in other releases carried out in the summers of 2019 and 2020 in the «Cortijo Virgen de los Milagros» demonstration olive grove; in this case, owls (Tyto alba), little owls (Athene noctua) and kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) were released. They also collaborated in the placement of nest boxes for lesser kestrels (Falco naumanni) and in the adaptation of certain infrastructures in the demonstration olive groves. Both actions were part of action C5.
CREAs of Andalusia. In May 2017, a request was made for a new release of barn owl chicks for the release programme described above. Although the request was accepted, in the end no release took place because the chicks were already juveniles and hacking requires younger individuals to stay in the nest for several days. An extension of the agreement was requested in January 2016. Work was carried out with them in the summers of 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Grupo de Rehabilitación de la Fauna Autóctona y su Hábitat (GREFA). Contact has been established to collaborate in the release of barn owls within the framework of action C5. To this end, a collaboration agreement is being prepared whereby GREFA will undertake to provide barn owl chicks bred in captivity from irrecoverable specimens that it keeps in its facilities. Olivares Vivos, through action C5 of the LIFE project, will release them using hacking techniques. The action served to draw attention to the problem of the deterioration of the rural infrastructures of the olive grove and to disseminate the adaptation measures that can be undertaken in the buildings.
Coordinadora de Organizaciones de Agricultores y Ganaderos (COAG) – FEAL Project: This is a project funded by the Erasmus+ programme, which showcases examples of successful projects in relation to European agricultural landscapes. Through one of its partners COAG, we provided information on some of the farms participating in Olivares Vivos which they presented as one of the case studies at the project meeting held in Naklo Slovenia in 2017 between 12-14 November 2017.
Food Standards Initiative and LIFE Biodiversity in Standards and Labels for the Food Industry. This project promoted the inclusion of biodiversity criteria in labels, standards or certifications in the agri-food sector. We held a meeting with the person in charge of the project in Spain, Amanda del Río, from the Global Nature Foundation, who informed us of the process of analysing numerous certification standards, from which 54 have been selected and subjected to an exhaustive study on how each of these standards or private norms promote the protection of biodiversity. There was a commitment to reciprocal information between projects and advice on certification issues (Food Standards) and Biodiversity (Olivares Vivos).
Macrotour. A collaboration was established with this company specialised in the design and management of tourism packages and the organisation of events. It advised the project on the development of tourist packages (action E8) and participated in the joint development of the tourist package to be offered within the framework of this action.
Astroandalus. This is a company specialised in astronomical tourism and the certification of Starlight Reserves (areas with favourable conditions for astronomical observation). We collaborated in the elaboration of some of the activities of the tourist packages that will be tested in the framework of action E8.
Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research and Training (IFAPA). A collaboration was established to participate in the Agri-Food Training courses in the speciality of olive growing. The form of collaboration and the expected results are detailed in Action E3.
Agro-ecology classroom of the Regional Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development of the Andalusian Regional Government. Collaboration took place through the joint organisation of information sessions for farmers. The first of these sessions took place in March 2018. More details on this issue can be found in action E3.
Green classroom of the University of Jaén. This is a tool of the Ecocampus project, which raises awareness and promotes new, more environmentally sustainable behaviours among the university community. They helped us to disseminate the activities of the project, mainly those related to volunteering. In addition, we offered volunteering activities exclusively for Aula Verde.
GEOLIT Technology Park. The park gave the project the use of an olive grove that was used as a Divulgative Olive Grove (see action A1). In addition, the main office and warehouse of the project are located in this technology park, also on loan. Thanks to our presence in GEOLIT, we were in contact with different institutions that are also based in the park, many of them related to the olive grove, with whom we exchanged information. Occasionally, collaborations arose with the CITOLIVA Foundation, the plant health laboratory of the Andalusian Regional Government, the Terra Oleum Museum, the IFAPA, etc.
Olive Grove Foundation and Terra Oleum Museum. We maintained collaboration with the Terra Oleum Museum, managed by the Fundación del Olivar. As a result of this collaboration, we gave a series of talks to groups of schoolchildren who visited the museum, thus combining the museum visit activity with the workshops planned within the framework of Action E4. In addition, visits to the museum were made as part of the volunteering activities organised in the province of Jaén, activities in which a discount was applied and an exclusive guided tour was provided.
1st Scientific-School Congress in Úbeda. We collaborated with the entities in charge of its organisation (Úbeda City Council and the company Te Kiero Verde). During the activities prior to the congress, the secondary schools participating in the congress visited the experimental olive grove that Olivares Vivos has in the vicinity of the Geolit office and received a talk on the olive grove, its environmental implications and the Olivares Vivos project. More information on this activity can be found in action E4.
NASSTEC Project (http://nasstec.eu). We participated in the annual meeting of the programme held between 31 January and 3 February 2017, in Cordoba, where we presented the Olivares Vivos project. We were in contact with the company Semillas Silvestres SL, one of the project partners, which also advised us on the use of native seeds of herbaceous species.
LIFE bioDehesa. The networking with this LIFE took shape with a meeting at the Department of Animal Production of the University of Cordoba, on 16 January 2018, which was attended by several technicians and the coordinators of both projects. The purpose of this working day was to share the indicators used in the LIFE bioDehesa and Olivares Vivos projects to measure biodiversity (Annex F5-1). The results of this collaboration were published in the journal Quercus. The two projects were working on the development and measurement of biodiversity indicators in the collaborating farms, maintaining contact and sharing their reflections in order to transfer these reflections to the results reports.
Terra Vida. This company provided us, free of charge, with its product «Terracottem»; a soil conditioner that facilitates the survival of seedlings, improving the use of water in the soil by means of hydro-absorbent polymers. The product was used selectively in some plantations, through a scientific sampling approach. In return, Terra Vida obtained comparative data between plantations that used it and those that did not, planted under similar conditions and in the same locations.
LUSH Ltd. is a cosmetics company that, as part of its environmental and corporate social responsibility policy, selects its suppliers according to strict environmental criteria. They contacted the coordinating partner SEO/BirdLife asking for suppliers of extra virgin olive oil for the production of their products. The supplier’s requirements included that the oil should come from an organic farm, preferably a cooperative, and that it should participate in environmental projects that would give the product added value. We provided the list of demonstration olive groves in the project that met these requirements and finally they selected one of them (Rambla Llana demonstration olive grove, from the «La Olivilla» Cooperative) as the supplier of oil for their production plants in the United Kingdom and Germany. This collaboration is a demonstrative example of other types of commercial outlets for oil, and a clear example that there is a market sector that rewards the environmental added value that Olivares Vivos means for its products.
CUvREN. The participation with the coordinating partner of this group allowed us to learn first-hand about the progress of this project, as well as to share the biodiversity monitoring methodology developed by Olivares Vivos.
University of Cordoba (UCO). As a result of the contacts established in collaboration with the CUvEN project, the possibilities for joint work with the UCO increased. This led to the preparation and granting of an Operational Group to continue working on demonstrative experiences of herbaceous canopy management. The DCOOP cooperative and companies such as AGRESTA and Semillas Cantueso also joined this collaboration.
Citoliva and Interóleo. Together with these two organisations, the coordinating partner (SEO/BirdLife) and one of the partners (Diputación de Jaén) of Olivares Vivos has submitted a proposal to create an Operational Group for the Rural Development Programme.
HOS. This organisation is a partner of Birdlife in Greece and we exchanged information about our respective projects on agriculture. We visited their premises during a visit to Greece in 2017 to meet and present LIFE Living Olive Groves in detail.
University of Évora. Several meetings were held with the heads of the Centro de Investigaҫao em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos (CIBIO). They participated in a seminar on olive groves and bats and joined the proposal of the new LIFE project, submitted and awarded in the LIFE 2020 Call.
Particular attention was paid to the Rural Development Programme and the constitution of its Operational Groups. Those that shared objectives with Olivares Vivos were identified and the project’s coordinating organisation (SEO/BirdLife) participated in the preparation of a proposal for the constitution of an operational group on herbaceous cover in the olive grove. The proposal was approved and was implemented during 2018 and 2019. The general objective of this task force was to test different types of herbaceous cover in olive groves (including a mixture of different native species compatible with the crop) to determine their impact on aspects such as: biodiversity, crop production, different soil parameters, fertilisation needs and the use of other phytosanitary products, energy balance, biomass production (carbon sequestration). It also included an important series of training and information transfer actions aimed at olive growers. This was an excellent opportunity to complement the work of the LIFE Olivares Vivos project with additional data on different possibilities for the implementation of herbaceous canopies. It was also a way to multiply the dissemination possibilities of the project by jointly organising dissemination activities in the agricultural sector.
Project visits to Crete and Athens (Greece)
In September 2017, a trip was made to Crete, where we participated in the international congress on agriculture and climate change held in Chania, and visited two projects that had been previously contacted. We met with their managers and visited some of the work plots to learn more about the different initiatives they are carrying out. A commitment of reciprocal information between projects and future advice was established.
LIFE Olive Clima. Project completed. It tested different agricultural techniques to combat climate change and adapt crops to the new climate scenario in an economically feasible way.
LIFE Agroclimawater. This project is testing efficient techniques in the use of irrigation water in woody crops, specifically in olive groves, citrus crops and peach trees, as a tool for adapting these crops to climate change.
In addition, a meeting was held with representatives of these projects and other institutions such as Rodax Agro Ltd., Soil and Water Institute of Greece, Università degli Studi della Basilicata, Institute of Olive, Subtropical Plants and Viticulture of the Hellenic Agricultural Organisation and the Bank of Piraeus, in order to discuss the possible replication of the project on farms in Greece and Italy and to assess the possibility of applying for a joint LIFE project in the next call.
Taking advantage of the stopover in Athens, a meeting was held with the Greek Ornithological Society (Ornithologiki/BirdLife). At this meeting, the content and development of Olivares Vivos was reported and a collaboration framework was established for the dissemination of the project results in Greece, as well as for the future replication of the project. Annex F5-1 details in a report all the work carried out during this trip to Crete and Athens.
Visit to projects in Italy
Taking advantage of the fact that we were invited to participate in the Terra Madre Fair, held by Slow Food Italy in Turin, being the only LIFE project invited to one of the conferences that took place during the Salone del Gusto, we were in contact with LIFE Granatha, which is coordinated by D.R.E.AM Italy; the «Frantoio del Parco» project and LIFE VITISOM. D.R.E.AM Italy joined the proposal of the new LIFE Project that was submitted and awarded in the LIFE 2020 Call.
In 2019, we participated in the «LIFE Platform Meeting: Nature restoration in intensified agriculture: innovations and best practices from the LIFE programme» (Lhee, The Netherlands). There, we learned from the many experiences in restoration of agricultural areas and presented our actions and results.
In addition, through the partner UJA-E, we participated in the AGRABIES project, of the National R&D&I Plan, which is studying the influence of landscape complexity and fauna on the ecosystem services of olive groves and other tree crops in Spain.
Finally, it should be noted that the objectives of Olivares Vivos gave significant added value to the LIFE programme thanks to its originality, demonstration potential and replicability. Moreover, combining biodiversity and profitability is an innovative idea that is raising high expectations in the agri-food sector.
Creation of a monitoring committee to act as a participatory body in which the coordinating partner, the beneficiary partners, the co-financiers and the owners of the demonstration olive groves are represented.
The project participation and monitoring committee was established in April 2016. The project partners and co-financiers are represented in the committee, each with one representative. The coordinating partner has three representatives: the project manager, the technical coordinator and the technician responsible for the implementation of this action and of the F2 monitoring and evaluation of the project, who also acts as secretary of the committee.
The presence of the co-financiers was particularly relevant, beyond their financial participation in the project. They are two organisations totally linked to the olive grove, with a lot of influence in the sector and important communication and dissemination resources. They played an important role in disseminating the project for replication.
The «Patrimonio Comunal Olivarero» Foundation is a private, non-profit organisation that collaborates with the authorities to ensure compliance with the sector’s regulatory standards, contributes to the promotion and dissemination of the properties of olive oil, produces numerous publications and promotes research.
Interprofesional del aceite de oliva español is an interprofessional organisation of the agri-food sector, made up of all the groups involved in the production and commercialisation of olive oil: farmers, mills, distributors, refineries, bottling companies, exporters, etc.
The first meeting was held on 20 April 2016, coinciding with the official presentation of the project to the media. From the second meeting, which was held on 20 December 2016, the representatives of the 20 demonstration olive groves participating in the project became members of the committee. The third meeting of the committee took place on 29 June 2017, while the fourth meeting was held on 14 December 2017. In October 2018, the fifth meeting was held, while the sixth was held in July 2019 and the seventh in June and July 2020. The meetings served to discuss the status and development of the project.
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+.