The complete study on the biodiversity of European olive groves

The results of the study on olive biodiversity in Europe conducted by Olivares Vivos are remarkable. With over 330,000 records gathered from field sampling in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece, a total of 1,600 taxa have been identified, encompassing species or genera of birds, pollinators, bats, spiders, and plants. Additionally, a biodiversity gradient from east to west has been observed, with the Iberian Peninsula exhibiting the highest species diversity. One of the most revealing conclusions of this study is how the biodiversity of olive groves is influenced by the aridity gradient of the terrain, surprisingly showing greater abundance of flora and fauna in farms located in semi-arid climate zones.

These findings were presented at a conference on the biodiversity of European olive groves, held at the headquarters of the International Olive Council (IOC). The full video of the event is published today for those interested in detailed results and the value of flora and fauna in enhancing agricultural profitability. The recording also includes statements from guests who participated in an institutional panel, emphasizing the strategic importance of nature in securing the future of agriculture. Among these powerful testimonies were the following:

“SEO/BirdLife’s commitment for the coming decades is that we will not abandon either the countryside or the people who work and produce food in it. We will continue to be an organization of public utility and will demonstrate that a national project like Olivares Vivos ensures profitability for farmers and health for consumers.”

Asunción Ruiz, Executive Director of SEO/BirdLife


“I had the opportunity to walk through that olive grove they invited us to imagine—a living olive grove—and it was an extraordinary experience that I highly recommend. Strolling through a natural environment, full of life and sounds, and talking to one of those olive growers who tell you that it is also profitable and beneficial for the cultivation is truly remarkable.”

Jaime Lillo, Executive Director of the International Olive Council


“This project has fully demonstrated that olives can be cultivated and oil produced sustainably. Additionally, it develops a market approach and certification system for its products. This comprehensive approach is a great example of sustainable agriculture, both economically and ecologically.”

Humberto Delgado, Director of Biodiversity and Natural Capital at the Directorate-General for Environment of the European Commission


“We must fight against the false dilemma that pits competitiveness against sustainability, as if they were incompatible, when in reality they are closely related. There can be no sustainability without profitability.”

Luis Planas, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food


“It is necessary to support farmers with agricultural policies that firmly commit to the conservation of our natural heritage. Additionally, consumer involvement through their purchasing choices is also needed.”

Nicolás Ruiz, Rector of the University of Jaén


But they were not the only ones to highlight the potential of flora and fauna to bring a (not so) new strength to olive cultivation. Rafael Alonso, manager of the olive oil company Oro del Desierto (Tabernas, Almería), was present at this event and shared how his family, farmers for seven generations, have been cultivating olive trees in harmony with nature for many years. “My father already had the idea of conserving biodiversity, and we have continued along that path,” Alonso noted, while emphasizing his interest in joining Olivares Vivos from the moment the first LIFE Olivares Vivos project (2015-2021) was introduced. “In this second phase, we were able to join, and I found it very interesting. I am amazed by the results they have achieved. Until today, I was not aware that in a semi-arid area like ours, the Tabernas Desert, where one might think there is less life, there is such a significant amount of biodiversity. It is very reassuring for all the work we have done managing our olive grove for almost 30 years. It shows us that we have been on the right track,” he added.


The presentation event concluded in the most delightful way possible. Olivares Vivos showcased “The Taste for Biodiversity” with a cocktail where the stars of each dish were the Extra Virgin Olive Oils (EVOO) from the project and wild plants, commonly known as weeds, which proved to be anything but “bad.” The fresh and intense flavor of these herbs paired perfectly with the Olivares Vivos EVOOs. Marcos Reguera, a chef specializing in high ecological value cuisine, highlighted this harmony, emphasizing the symphony of aromas, colors, and flavors these plants can bring to haute cuisine.



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+.