Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
  Energy News  




Subscribe free to our newsletters via your




















FARM NEWS
A trip to the land of endangered ancient olive trees
By Michaela CANCELA-KIEFFER
Traiguera, Spain (AFP) Jan 4, 2017


The sun sets in eastern Spain and dozens of ancient olive trees cast long shadows on the ground.

Once dug up and sold as luxury items for the wealthy, they are increasingly protected as farmers and authorities realise these trees, some of which were planted by the Romans, are an invaluable part of Spain's heritage.

Near the town of Traiguera, Amador Peset, 37, gets out of his old 4x4 and, in the biting wind, cuts across a field before stopping before a majestic tree.

"You're probably in front of the biggest olive tree in the world... with a girth of 10.2 metres (33.5 feet)," the farmer says proudly.

Botanists say a circumference of 10 metres indicates a tree is over a thousand years old -- which means this specimen was around when the area was still under Muslim rule.

Peset lovingly tends 106 such "monuments", cleaning their gnarled branches and ridding them of weeds that suck their sap like vampires.

- Longevity, resistance -

Joan Porta, another farmer, says that just a few years back, olive trees were largely ignored in fields also full of almond and other fruit trees, vines or wheat.

In fact, they were often used for firewood in farms.

"Now we realise that they are thousand-year-old trees," the 75-year-old says, pointing to the jewel in his own field's crown.

It is aged 1,702 years according to a dating method used by the Polytechnic University of Madrid -- which means it was planted under the Roman emperor Constantine.

Brought to Spain by the Greeks and the Romans, olive trees now cover 2.5 million hectares (6.2 million acres) of land.

Such is the attraction of these long-living trees that they have become a must-have luxury item for some wealthy people.

In the mid 2000s, "people would talk uneasily about how some trees were torn out, how they would see trucks loaded up" with large trunks, says Maria Teresa Adell.

Adell manages an association of 27 towns and cities in the Valencia region -- including Traiguera -- as well as the neighbouring areas of Catalonia and Aragon, which, among other things, works towards protecting their olive tree heritage.

According to the group, hundreds of the ancient trees were ripped out during the 2000s and taken away to be sold for high prices in garden centres or specialised auctions.

Online foreign garden centres still offer "ancient" olive trees for sale, such as Todd's Botanics in Britain, where one specimen from Valencia is priced at 3,500 pounds ($4,300, 4,100 euros).

"I buy one or two every year," says owner Mark Macdonald, adding however that he only purchases trees already in ready-to-plant clods.

- 60,000 euros -

As for those who buy them, they tend to have money -- people such as French wine magnate Bernard Magrez, who told AFP he had planted olive trees in the grounds of several of his Bordeaux estates including the prestigious Chateau Pape Clement, aged "between 1,015 and 1,860 years".

For Cesar-Javier Palacios, spokesman for the Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente environmental foundation, taking them away from their native soil "is like taking a cathedral and putting it somewhere else."

Not so, argues Roamhy Machoir-Heras, who organised a big ancient olive tree auction in 2011 where Magrez bought his specimens.

Hers were already in clods, and "we saved them," she said.

Of 44 specimens, some were sold for more than 60,000 euros.

Those that didn't go to Magrez's estates went to a "sumptuous collection" in the Middle East, she added.

- Ban trade 'like for ivory' -

Palacios, though, has launched a petition "against the plundering of old olive trees" on Change.org that has garnered 154,000 signatures so far.

"We are asking... for regulations banning the traffic, like for ivory," he said, adding however that the trade in olive trees has started to slow as people realise these are "heritage treasures".

Concepcion Munoz, an agronomist at the University of Cordoba, has counted 260 different varieties in Spain, of which there sometimes only remains one specimen.

In 2006, the Valencia region banned the practice of tearing out trees with a girth of more than six metres.

Various towns and cities in Valencia, Catalonia and Aragon have also inventoried nearly 5,000 of the oldest trees with a view to protecting them.

This makes it the region with the "highest concentration of ancient olive trees in the world," says Adell, even if there are also many in Italy and Greece.

And to persuade farmers, Adell's grouping of municipalities has also found an economic argument -- producing oil from trees that are on the official inventory and are thus protected.

A litre costs around 18 euros in the area, 40 euros in Barcelona and up to 90 euros in China.

Peset, for one, is sold on the idea.

He is negotiating with Chinese buyers interested in ordering a thousand bottles to use in cosmetics.


Comment on this article using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

.


Related Links
Farming Today - Suppliers and Technology






Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
FARM NEWS
Strip tillage, rowcovers for organic cucurbit production
University Park PA (SPX) Jan 03, 2017
Plasticulture systems, the use of polyethylene mulch on raised beds with drip irrigation, are common in the production of many cucurbit crops in the Northeastern US. Plasticulture systems have numerous benefits, but concerns about costs and the environmental impacts of plastic disposal, along with expenses related to system installation, are motivating scientists to find alternatives. To d ... read more


FARM NEWS
Switzerland sees driest December in 150 years

Lockheed Martin Completes Assembly of NOAA's GOES-S Weather Satellite

China launches new weather satellite Fengyun-4

exactEarth to study Small Vessel Tracking for UK Space Agency

FARM NEWS
Austrian cows swap bells from 'hell' for GPS

Russia, China Making Progress in Synchronization of GLONASS, BeiDou Systems

Alpha Defence Company To Make Navigation Satellites For ISRO

Europe's own satnav Galileo goes live

FARM NEWS
Obama creates two new national monuments

Amazonia's best and worst areas for carbon recovery revealed

Warming could slow upslope migration of trees

Better road planning could boost food production while protect forests

FARM NEWS
Economics of forest biomass raise hurdles for rural development

Biomass operations aren't currently feasible in rural communities

Molecular Velcro boosts microalgae's potential in biofuel, industrial applications

Ultrafast lasers reveal light-harvesting secrets of photosynthetic algae

FARM NEWS
Stability challenge in perovskite solar cell technology

Tesla, Panasonic team up for solar power

First movie of energy transfer in photosynthesis solves decades-old debate

Ohio keeps renewable energy standards

FARM NEWS
The answer is blowing in the wind

French power group aims to double wind capacity

New rules for micro-grids in Alberta

Offshore wind makes U.S. debut

FARM NEWS
China to cut coal capacity by 800 million tonnes by 2020

Norway fund blacklists more coal groups over climate concerns

Black coal, thin pickings: China's miners face decline

Coal demand shifting to Asia, IEA says

FARM NEWS
Football and prayer wheels: views of modern Tibet

As thousands march China says Hong Kong must not subvert mainland

Chinese official sentenced 10 years in vaccine scandal

Born again: baby boom after China ends one-child rule




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News








The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement