The proposal regarding The Olive Grove Landscapes of Andalusia presents said property as a serial property that comes under the typology of Cultural Landscape. In the three categories that make up this typology according to annex 3 of the Operational Guidelines, and according to the different ways the landscape has developed, this property is put forward a) as an Evolving Cultural Landscape and a b) Living Cultural Landscape. Even though the precise, detailed designation of this property will be carried out when the Application Form is filled out, this preliminary proposal to include the property on the Tentative List will initially include traditional olive groves that are of the greatest significance in Andalusia, and which are the most valuable in terms of landscape and heritage. In other words, these will be the olive groves that best capture, whether individually or as a whole, the exceptional universal value of this cultural landscape.
If the property in question is a serial property, we have landscape sub-units that have been identified - see the table attached - that differ according to their geographical location and their representativeness. This selection meets the criteria for serial properties, which paragraph 138 of the Operational Guidelines defines as properties that comprise two or more features that are interlinked by clearly defined connections, and which must also meet the following conditions:a) They reflect cultural, social and functional connections in the landscape.
Territorial and socio-economic values
The importance of the olive tree has remained imprinted in the culture of countries in the Mediterranean region, where growing these trees and extracting olive oil has, over the centuries, led to the development of a number of practices, customs, rituals and beliefs that have been around since Antiquity in practically all areas of life. All the peoples who have lived in this region have contributed their own technology and culture, turning the olive into a commonly used product as well as a primary commodity in trade throughout history.
Grown ever since the Neolithic era, the human history that has shaped olive culture can still partially be seen today as it constantly adapts to an ever-changing world. This olive culture we have just described, which is authentic, Mediterranean and closely linked to nature and agriculture (despite becoming increasingly industrialised and automated), is very visible indeed in Andalusia. In this region, olives are the socio-economic foundation for a significant proportion of its rural population, who are all linked to olives in one way or another, whether they are farmers or olive grove owners. If we look at olives from a consumer's perspective, we can also say that most people in Andalusia as a whole, not just the rural population, are linked to olive oil in some way, and that they are experts on olives and everything to do with them. The integration of olive trees into the landscape, the diverse landscapes where olive trees grow, in addition to the economy and lifestyle of populations throughout history have led to the accumulation of a wealth of culture and a number of indications that this tree, its fruit (the olive) and its oil are amongst the defining features of the landscape.
Andalusia was, and remains, one of the main locations where olive trees are still extensively grown - from the time when the Hispania Baetica region used to supply olive oil to the Roman capital at the very least. The first olive groves appear when you cross the boundary of our region in Sierra Morena, and they grow on the rolling fields, hilltops and mountainsides (which are not always quite so smooth) on both sides of the Guadalquivir River, and they are even found as far out as the coast. Andalusia is the leading grower of this crop, a crop that is undoubtedly the number one byword for Andalusian agricultural heritage, and which has been and remains a part of the culture of this region, its economy and its history.
Spain has olive groves scattered over almost all the country, but the biggest concentration of them is in Andalusia, a region situated in the south of the Iberian Peninsula. Olive grove areas have undergone various phases of expansion and shrinkage (as have production and exports) that are generally linked to the situation of the market, culminating in the massive expansion of olive grove areas in Spain that occurred in the 20th century (when olive trees went from occupying 1.1 million hectares in 1888 to 2.5 million hectares today). A massive expansion that has been taking place in the south of the country (Andalusia, Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura), which is where olive trees traditionally grow, and where they made up 70% of the total area at the end of the 19th century. Today, this figure stands at over 85%. On a provincial scale, solely the province of Jaén is a typical case seeing as in 1888, olive trees took up just over 190,000 hectares of space, with this figure standing at nearly 600,000 hectares today.
The growing of olive trees has now become a strategic sector for Andalusia that is being kept going in the so-called “sea of olive trees”, an area made up of a massive neat expanse comprising 70 million olive trees, making it the biggest tree plantation in Europe. This in turn has had an impact on the area's way of life, the landscape and the culture of several Andalusian towns, thus shaping the region’s identity in a certain way.
This is why it is the only community that has implemented its own Law (Law 5/2011 of 6 October, The Andalusia Olive Grove Law), as well as a master plan (The 2015 Olive Grove Master Plan) that recognise the olive grove as the most representative and symbolic farming ecosystem in Andalusia. And it's not only one of the region's main agricultural sectors: on a global scale,this is where 30% of olive oil production and 20% of table olive production is concentrated. Olive tree cultivation is also the primary activity in over 300 Andalusian settlements, and it provides over 22 million working days a year, which have earned the practice the nickname “social cultivation”. This is because this activity and its two main products - olive oil and olives - constitute the primary activity of countless areas in Andalusia.
Today, the olive grove has gone far beyond its traditional definition. It is also a basis for the development of economic activities, research, business boosts, and it generates wealth creation with the help of an entire economic sector that is linked in some way to olive groves: this can range from oil presses and oil processors to tourism companies, utility companies and companies that deal with residue obtained during oil production and from the olives themselves that can be used to create biomass for energy purposes. This may also involve universities and other institutions researching different ways of producing the main products, or different ways of growing and harvesting them. A crop that has had a range of positive effects, including the crucial role it plays in the population's fascination with the rural world as well as its cultural values - not to mention the fact that the products it gives us are renowned for their undeniable health benefits.
Olive trees and olive oil - specifically, their cultivation, production and consumption – have shaped the Mediterranean world to a significant degree. This kind of potential has been derived throughout history from the iconic, symbolic character of this particular tree, which is seen as a tree of wisdom and peace, and one of the longest-surviving living things. They can live for hundreds of years, or, in some cases, more than a thousand years. All this being said, though, we especially need to attribute its potential to the varied and renowned nutritious, cosmetic and therapeutic uses the tree's products have.
In terms of heritage, we must recognise the crucial role this crop has played in defining the cultural and vital character of the Mediterranean. The basic objective is that the property proposed for inclusion on the Tentative List of Cultural Heritage, The Olive Grove Landscapes of Andalusia, should be representative of one of the agricultural landscapes that reflect the culture and the human transformation of the Mediterranean. At the same time, the aim is also to pay tribute to the olive tree as an authentic tree that symbolises a culture stretching back a thousand years.
The unique values possessed by the astonishing, vast territory covered by Andalusian olive groves are visible in the region's diverse “landscapes”, all of which influence a geographical, socio-economic and cultural space in which the cultivation of olive trees and the production of olive oil contribute significantly to the shaping of the landscapes, whilst also explaining how such a unique cultural heritage came to be. This application thus covers the unique character of The Olive Groves of Andalusia from numerous perspectives, ranging from the area's landscape and geography whilst also being careful to note socio-economic and historical factors. All of these perspectives play an important role in explaining why these olive groves are so unique and exceptional.
The description of The olive grove landscapes of Andalusia opens with a mandatory socioeconomic outline of the Andalusian olive grove sector. It then goes on to describe the most significant historical processes that explain the current layout of the olive grove landscapes, which reflects these processes. It then closes with a description of the area proposed previously.
2.1. Socio-economic background: general classification of Andalusian olive groves
To give an idea of the importance of this sector to Andalusia, Andalusian olive groves are the country's biggest producers and the world's leading olive tree grower, with over 1.5 millionhectares, 900,000 tonnes of Olive Oil and 380,000 tonnes of table olives. On average,Andalusian production accounts for 80% of national production and 30% of global production. It is concentrated in over 300 Andalusian towns known as olive-growing towns, and this sector generates 30% of agricultural employment in the region, and nearly 1000 (973) related industries. Olive groves in Andalusia cover nearly half of all the agricultural terrain in our region and they are particularly prominent in the province of Córdoba, the north-west of Granada, the north of Malaga and the south-east of Seville. These areas all form the area known as the “olive grove hub” or the “diagonal line of olive groves".
It is the main crop in Andalusia, and has in fact come to be the only crop grown in many areas. Covering 1,555,475 hectares of land, it takes up 45% of the total agricultural land in Andalusia (3,532,846 hectares). This area is also significant when compared with the figure for the EU-27, where olive groves barely occupy 2% (around 4.86 million hectares) of agricultural land, which totals 243 million hectares. In other words, in terms of total land cultivated, Andalusia is home to almost 32% of all olive groves in Europe. (Data from the annual report for the sector from 2014, the Unicaja Foundation). Olives are grown all over Andalusia, though chiefly in the provinces of Jaén (home to 37.6% of the total olive-growing land in Andalusia), Córdoba (23.0%), Seville (13.8%), Granada (12.1%) and Malaga (8.4%). The prominence of the province of Jaén is well worth highlighting, which leads the way in the single-crop cultivation of olive trees, producing nearly half of all the oil obtained in the region, and where almost 90% of cultivated land is used solely to grow olive trees.
As an agricultural ecosystem, the olive groves can foster an enormous variety of different production methods, cultivation techniques and so on. As such, you can find groves where olive trees are grown intensively in areas not traditionally used as olive groves, in addition to mountain groves with low levels of productivity, with a wide range of production, varieties and management systems in between.
Traditionally, olive trees have been grown in non-irrigated conditions owing to the fact the trees are very well adapted to periods of intense drought, while maintaining acceptable production levels. However, aside from affecting irrigation, precipitation can, for instance, also have an effect on the density of the plantation, pruning or the risk of erosion. As such, this is a factor that has an impact on the olive grove as a whole. With regards to irrigation, studies have shown that by irrigating the land, production increases significantly. Whilst traditional olive grove production on non-irrigated land varies between 2,000 and 5,000 kg/ha depending on the area, well-irrigated olive groves can produce up to 15,000 kg/ha of oil-producing olives per year. Nevertheless, Andalusian olives are mainly grown on non-irrigated land (78% of the total olive grove area), though the use of irrigation has increased over the last few years due to new intensive plantations as well as the irrigation of traditional olive groves on non-irrigated land.
Another feature that sets Andalusian olive groves apart is that they are overwhelmingly owned by smallholders. There are 107,608 smallholdings that cover an area less than a hectare, which account for 34% of all olive groves, with 47.5% covering between 1 and 5 hectares. Furthermore, smallholdings covering between 1 and 5 hectares are the most common in Andalusia, occupying 354,600 hectares (24.6% of the total land). There are 964 smallholdings of less than 100 hectares, and, even though they only make up 0.3% of all smallholdings, they make up 11.3% (163,310 hectares) of the total area of olive groves in Andalusia.
The olives cultivated in Andalusia come in large number of varieties, the most common and widespread being the "Picual olive" (60% of the total land). It is widely used in new plantations because of its productivity and high oil yield. The reason it makes up such a large proportion of the total olive yield is down to its prominence in the province of Jaén, where almost all the olive trees are this variety (over 98% of the land); in Granada it accounts for 70%, and in Córdoba 40%. The next most common variety is “Hojiblanca”, with around 18%. It is predominantly found between the south of Córdoba, the north of Malaga and the south-east of Seville. The variety “Manzanilla de Sevilla”, grown on 5% of the land, is concentrated primarily in Seville and part of Huelva. The figures for remaining varieties are significantly lower, and are found a lot more locally in terms of their distribution, generally around their area of origin.
Another important variable is plantation density, defined as the number of olive trees planted (whether they bear fruits or not) by unit of area. This variable, when combined with how many feet a tree occupies, is linked to how efficiently land is occupied and how easy mechanisation will be in order to adapt the resulting olive grove landscapes. In Andalusia, traditional density has varied between 70 and 80 olive trees per hectare, which are generally planted three feet from each other. This gives us a number of feet per hectare that varies between 210 and 240. Currently, we are generally seeing dense plantations, which range from 200 to 250 olive trees per hectare, with just one foot per olive tree. The result of this is the same number of feet per hectare in both instances.
Related industry. This type of industry is linked to obtaining olive oil and preparing olives for human consumption - processes which require a subsequent stage of industrial processing. We then have to allow for the subsequent processing of certain by-products created during industrial processing, and these by-products can provide us with other goods to sell on the market, for instance olive pomace oil, biomass for generating energy, organic fertilisers and cosmetic products. There are currently 820 oil mills in operation in Andalusia, which accounts for 47.2% of all milling industries currently in existence in Spain. A wealth of technology-based businesses have also emerged as a result of the requirements that olive trees have created: vegetable matter production, phytosanitary and fertiliser factories, specialised service companies (in harvesting olives or specialist machinery), the provision of components for irrigation, engineering companies - the list goes on.
2.2. The historical processes that explain the cultural landscape of Andalusian olive groves From the very uncertain origins of the olive grove right up to the most recent expansion of olive oil terrain as a result of Spain joining the European Union, the history of the development of the Andalusian olive grove stretches back thousands of years. Historical aspects, aspects to do with geographical colonisation and expansion, times of crisis and prosperity, systems of land use and cultivation, the acquisition of knowledge of expertise, the influence cultivation and settlers had on each other and aspects that also allow us to gauge the current significance of the olive grove.
By summarising its development, we will be able to emphasise the historical impact that Andalusian olive groves has had on olive trees in the Mediterranean and all over the world. We will discover how history has shaped the olive grove geography of Andalusia as well as its key milestones. Lastly, the landscape's distinctive features and defining characteristics help us understand how the Andalusian olive groves have come to shape a cultural landscape that is distinctive of Mediterranean ways of life. A universal Mediterranean landscape that is being arranged into countless specific landscapes that are the result of a number of specific requirements, backgrounds, ideas and tastes.
- Expansion factors of a thousand-year-old landscape
In Andalusia, the process of human transformation with a production economy based on agriculture and livestock rearing began during the Neolithic Era in around the 5th millennium BC. From this time, there are traces of material culture such as polished stone and ceramics, which were introduced to this region from the Eastern Mediterranean. Andalusia's geostrategic position in the extreme south of Europe, located between Africa and Europe as well as between the Atlantic and Mediterranean, combined with the region's mineral and agricultural riches, turned Andalusia into a focal point for other civilisations. The Guadalquivir Valley is a natural channel that has been traversed by numerous civilisations since prehistoric times. Before the Phoenicians brought over the cultivated olive tree- who may have also started to cultivate local wild olive trees - here in Andalusia, oil from wild olive trees was already been used in rituals, and possibly in cooking too. This is proven by stones from wild olives from ten thousand years ago that were discovered in the famous Nerja Cave in Malaga,and possible oil lamps from around four thousand years ago found in Montefrío, Granada.
We not only need to understand the importance of Andalusian olive oil in international tradefrom the very first Roman expansion into Andalusia, we also have to understand the evolutionof the olive grove landscape in the context of the shaping of the Andalusian agriculturallandscape - a landscape shaped by various demographical changes as well as other political andcultural factors. We also have to place it in the context of the significant historical periods theregion went through. After all, the entire history of the region is captured in its olive groves .
- Olive grove geography in Andalusia and their shaping over time
It is important to highlight, albeit concisely, the importance Andalusian olive trees acquired as far back as the Roman era, their distribution all over the Hispania Baetica region from the early days of colonisation and their “everlasting” presence in the historical Aljarafe region of Seville - remnants of the oldest olive groves from the Roman era. The colonial period marked the spreading of olive trees along the Lower Guadalquivir and the region of La Campiña, Seville, and the subsequent spreading of olive trees during the 18th century and their eventual entrenchment in the region during the 19th and 20th centuries in an area currently known asthe “olive grove hub/diagonal". These were historical peaks that are closely related to the commercial value that olive oil has historically enjoyed.
It isn’t until the Ensenada land registry of 1750 that we get our first historical document offering us a territorial, systematic view of how olive trees spread throughout the area. During this period, we see how a continuous corridor of olive trees was formed. This corridor stretched from the region of La Campiña in Seville along the rest of the Guadalquivir Valley, reaching the north of the province of Jaén, not far from the roads that once connected the north and south of the country. At the end of the 18th century, the province of Seville emerged as the leading cultivator of olive trees, and the importance of Seville olives was established before the 18th century, with two key regions: Aljarafe in Seville and La Campiña in Córdoba. Up until the mid-19th century, olive groves continued to spread to fairly similar degrees in Seville, Córdoba and Jaén, areas home to around 90% of all the region's olive trees, whilst the olive tree corridor, present since 1750, displayed a similar pattern of growth. During the first decades of the 20th century, Córdoba and particularly Jaén accelerated their growth in such a way that their olive groves covered a greater surface area than Seville as early as 1930. In 1960, olive trees in Jaén already covered 380,000 hectares and, like a puddle of oil, they were spreading all over the province, and are currently cultivated on about 90% of the land. During the late 20th century and early 21st century, we see both a decline in olive trees in Seville - where olive tree coverage fell by 25% - and a new growth spurt in regions that were not traditionally olive growers (the municipalities of Granada and Malaga, located in the Sub- Baetic System of mountains attached to the provinces of Córdoba and Jaén). In short, despite a thousand years of history - we certainly cannot dismiss the evidence we have for the importance of trade with the Hispania Baetica Region - the prominence of olive trees is a relatively recent phenomenon. After all, the massive expansion of olive trees in Spain began in the 19th century. Within Spain itself, even though olive trees were grown throughout the country, their presence dwindled in the east of the Peninsula and rose in the south, and they now constitute the most widespread vegetation in Andalusia.
2.3. The Andalusian olive grove, a cultural landscape that is distinctive of Mediterranean ways of life
Olive trees have been grown in all civilisations for around five millennia, the seeds of which are scattered by birds across the Mediterranean. What’s more, wild olive trees have been cultivated by the most ancient civilisations have played a crucial role in the economy and culture of the region. Here we must acknowledge the historical significance of the Andalusian olive tree in Mediterranean and global olive tree cultivation.
Without neglecting the enduring use of olive oil for local consumption, we must also mention the fact that the trade of Andalusian olive oil played a vital historical role during the Roman, Islamic and colonial eras - periods of equal significance in the history of the Mediterranean.
If the Phoenicians were the ones to introduce olive tree cultivation to the Western Mediterranean, it was during the Roman era that olive trees became one of the main plants grown in the Hispania Baetica Region, which in turn exported oil to every corner of the Roman Empire. Seeing as it was one of the main routes that carried olive oil from the south of Spain to Rome, the Hispania Baetica Region became the Empire's main supplier of olive oil. This is proven by the remains of an old Roman rubbish dump, Monte Testaccio (around twenty-five million amphorae have been found in a dump near the city of Rome - 80% of which came from the Hispania Baetica Region). It is also proven by archaeological digs that have revealed ancient potteries where clay pots were manufactured to transport oil along the Guadalquivir.
In terms of the true extent of olive trees in the Mediterranean, in the first decade of the 20th century - which is when we get the first estimates of global production - only three countries grew them: Spain, Italy and Greece, accounting for over 80% of global production. And as soon as the early 20th century, Spain had already clearly overtaken Italy. Even today, 95% of olive oil production is concentrated in the Mediterranean Basin. Even though some countries in South America, as well as regions such as California and countries such as Chile, South Africa and Australia - the so-called “other Mediterranean” - have been cultivating olives since colonial times, the size of these areas in global terms is minor.
Currently, the boom in Andalusian olive trees is undergoing a stage of expansion in response to an increase in worldwide demand, the modernisation of production and industrialisation. This has in turn helped improve productivity, which was stimulated even more when Spain joined the European Union, with Spain now receiving direct subsidies for oil production.
- Hallmarks of the Mediterranean nature of Andalusian olive groves
Despite its significance as a single unit, the Andalusian olive tree is not identical throughout the Andalusian landscape. Guzmán Álvarez defines eleven types of landscape according to the morphology of the land where olive trees grow (loamy hills, flood plains etc.) and nine types of cultural landscape primarily linked to their historical origins (Nazarí, colonial and the time of the Ecclesiastical Confiscations). Delgado, Ojeda, Infante and Andreu actually point to the existence of eight different agricultural environments in which (wild) olive trees are found, environments that are very varied and which may be objectively defined as units of landscape: they range from scattered, multifunctional olive groves to olive groves that have been transformed into vast, linear fields that are super-intensive and produce only one crop. These are landscapes that been shaped into the symbolic Mediterranean landscapes we see today, and which still feature the age-old, iconic wild olive tree, the father of the whole system. A landscape that is in turn arranged into countless specific landscapes. After all, this thousandyear process of cultivation has been leaving very distinctive traces and features: wild olive shrubs forming part of natural vegetation, or small groups of trees and open grassland, or even the shaping of genuine olive grove landscapes in different shapes and sizes.
Yet we can also view the landscapes we see today as the proof of a particular socio-economic reality. As such, the large properties we see on olive-grove estates built on fertile lower Andalusian land during the olive tree boom of the 18th and 19th centuries have turned traditional agricultural holdings into centres specialised in producing oil. Here, olive trees, land, large property, large estates and daily labour really demonstrate how olive trees spread out in certain areas that were stimulated by the advance of the rural middle class. Furthermore, areas with less desirable relief - regions of high terrain and foothills - developed different kinds of olive groves that were set up by a different social group, the peasantry. They were still meeting their needs with subsistence farming, sometimes working for other people, and they relied on nature, not the market, to sustain themselves. These were olive groves that would continue to fulfil a multifunctional role given they could use them to provide food for their animals, fuel, cereals, firewood and products to sell. You can find good examples of this particular type of olive grove in the countryside of certain regions of Córdoba and Jaén, where Intra-Baetic depressions meet Sub-Baetic mountains.
- Historical character of olive grove landscapes
The olive tree and all the traditional activities that are based on its cultivation have had an enormous capacity to create Properties of Cultural Interest. Historically, the Guadalquivir hub has been and continues to be a strategic corridor. It is a place where cultures meet, and it is also the setting for the olive trade in our region. Just like the Guadalquivir, olive groves have been planted and torn down along this river that forms the backbone of Andalusia. They also help bring the region together territorially, socially and culturally. In other words, they have shaped our very identity, all that defines us and everything that makes us equal. As such, olive trees have been grown, and are still being grown, practically all over the region. Land and crops shaped through the centuries by various civilisations: the Iberians, the Romans, the Arabs and the Christians, all of whom contributed their own knowledge, habits, customs and traditions, not to mention their very own ways of thinking and culture: literature, artwork, cooking and folklore - all of which has given Andalusian culture the richness and diversity it now possesses. It is also a territory with very diverse geography that has influenced this cultural landscape's unique make-up, turning it into a farming resource for local development.
After all, beyond the intrinsic value of the products of the olive trees themselves, the heritage the territory enjoys has given it a high degree of social recognition and a very strong foothold, the result of a fruitful, extensive process carried out in all areas - the symbols of an evolving, living landscape. This heritage is represented by the following major characteristics:
- The perceptual and visual uniqueness of the sea of olive trees , which is predominantly characterised by the geometry of its make-up, the diversity of tree locations, the variety of physical conditions it benefits from and its status as a single-crop growing area. The perceptual capacity of certain places is particularly noteworthy, and it is the immenseness, the topographical conditions and the tremendous appearance of these places that give this landscape its unique character.
- Diversity of landscapes. The Andalusian olive grove landscape is arranged into countless specific landscapes that are the result of a number of specific requirements as well as geographical and historical factors, and this diversity is in turn enhanced by the variety of vegetation. The current conservation and cultivation of numerous varieties of olives are the result of a selection process that took place during several painstaking years, and which combines tradition and innovation. The most widespread varieties are: Picual, Hojiblanca, Manzanilla, Verdial, Lechín, Empeltre, Blanqueta, Farga and Arbequina. These varieties have their own organoleptic properties and unique distinctive flavours and aromas. At the moment, designations of origin are helping to create new trade possibilities for the future of these products. Specifically, they place value on the unique and exceptional characteristics the oils have.
- Cultural heritage of olive production. There are countless buildings that are used to cultivate and produce olive oil: anti-erosion constructions, tool houses, stone huts, farm houses, farmsteads, farming estates, mills and oil presses. These are all of enormous value in terms of heritage, and they are also very specific types of building that possess architectural and technological features that reveal the historical uses of olive trees and the social classes that used them. Especially significant are the industrial buildings used to produce oil. The methods of extraction may have undergone vital changes during the last century (from 100% manual pressing to the introduction of the hydraulic press and continuous systems), yet some oil mills have remained unchanged, and they are real archaeological treasures. A rich and varied olive heritage that is further complemented by the urban heritage of towns, villages and cities with pasts as rich as the olive groves themselves; a range of viewpoints and an extensive network of roads, paths and scenic trails where people can admire this landscape and all its distinctive features; museums, visitor centres and cultural and tourist trails all dedicated to olive trees – all jointly known as olive oil tourism, has firmly become an alternative way of teaching people all about the region's olive heritage, and is a way of becoming acquainted with the cultivation and production process first-hand.
- Intangible cultural heritage. It is very important to appreciate how the landscape is inextricably linked to intangible social and cultural values. This is a dimension that recognises the olive tree as a living thing that we respect and identify in some way with the world of peasants and day labourers in a region that has suffered hardships and inequality for centuries. An entire culture based on the olive tree has emerged that is apparent in the region's traditions, festivals, handicrafts and food. A large part of this culture is in fact related to working with olive trees, with particular focus placed on dishes made during olive harvests. These are traditions in which olive trees and olive oil, not to mention the countryside, the landscape, the villages and olive mills, cooking traditions, customs and festivals, are ever present.
As an agricultural landscape, traditional knowledge about olive tree growing is preserved and passed down from generation to generation, forming a unique intangible heritage. Systems of land ownership and distribution that involve most traditional olive groves being held under joint ownership, i.e. smallholdings, date back to the period of medieval repopulation and the period after the Ecclesiastical Confiscations. These were the result of successive hereditary systems that involved distributing the land evenly, which in turn often fostered employment within families. The spirit of cooperation, which is generated by arranging olive tree growers into cooperatives, has been a recurring feature in how olive oil is produced since the mid-20th century right up to the present day. The members of each cooperative elect their leaders directly, and this creates a spirit of utmost trust between the olive growers, and this concept has served as a model for other kinds of cultivation, for instance greenhouses. It isn’t only the cooperatives that foster this team spirit. The bodies that regulate Designations of Protected Origin and Olive Plantations in Integrated Production, who share human resources and techniques to increase productivity, also play a role.
Olive tree festivals and celebrations, tourist events and trade events - which feature a number of organisations and associations from the olive world - have become firmly ingrained in the collective conscience of locals seeking to defend their identity. These are age-old festivals and brand new ones. Take, for example, the Botijuela festival held in Adamuz and in other villages in the province of Córdoba at the end of the olive harvest season. Then there's the Olive Festival in Martos held on the 8th December, which marks the official start of the olive harvest season. We can then add all the oral traditions linked to the world of olive oil, including sayings, songs, stories and much more. We also have specific olive oil vocabulary that has been preserved, and which has been the subject of a number of studies and publications.
2.4. The olive grove landscapes of Andalusia: preliminary designation proposal In view of the fact that the specific designation must be the result of a more detailed study, we submit a serial property proposal as a guideline for the property's designation. The aim of this is to attempt to portray the Andalusian olive tree plantation in its entirety as a complex cultural component that is unique because of its extraordinary history and scale. A serial property that consists of land where high-quality olive oils and unique olive varieties are produced, regardless of whether they are designations of origin. It also consists of olive plantations located in areas of great natural value - plantations that have real uses, for which model cultivation methods are used in highly complex areas with added limitations. These plantations demonstrate the difficulty of planting the trees in the first place (steep gradients, terraces etc.) The property is also home to unique, centuries-old trees that form part of this complex olive grove landscape as well as olive grove landscapes that are linked to unique historical systems that help us gain a better understanding of the history of the territory and the territory itself.
This proposal thus addresses a range of “olive grove landscapes” of historical significance that are particularly striking and representative of the values of Andalusian olive tree heritage as a whole: exceptional examples of the land's diversity as well as spaces and features linked not only to the cultivation, history and evolution of olive trees, but also to all the uses and different kinds of products they produce (in cooking, handicrafts, industry, renewable energy and so on). These elements combine to reflect all the characteristics of olive culture.
In short, the proposal aims to portray the Andalusian olive plantation landscape as a single, continuous territory of olive trees that has a clear, coherent physical structure. It also comprises unique, unparalleled values: visual breadth, historical elements as well as other key values that demonstrate its excellence as a heritage site. It is also a stretch of territory that is sufficiently accessible and that provides all the necessary information to give people a better understanding and appreciation of the culture and natural significance of the olive grove landscape. In light of all these criteria, the area proposed will cover approximately 300,000 hectares. This will allow us to appreciate a range of different landscapes within the area, the diverse cultural identities the area possesses, as well as remarkable resources and the best represented fragments from the history of olive tree plantations. Furthermore, even thoughwe are eschewing an aesthetic or visual reading, in this particular case, this element is particularly unique and relevant to the vastness and perceptual richness offered by the sea of olive trees, which makes up the main area of the proposal.
The olive grove landscapes of Andalusia are the epitome of the Mediterranean's most authentic landscapes. The olive landscape is a cultural one in which agriculture is dominant, and also one which is profoundly historical. The exceptional universal value of this landscape stems from its past, present and future: it provides us with historical information about a crop that is essential to the Mediterranean world. Furthermore, its current vitality in that it is a living, multifunctional landscapes will ensure it will have lasting effects on the future. These effects will not only be felt in production, but also in the uses of the olive groves, as well as advances and technological innovation in the ways olive groves are utilised and in the way the beneficial uses that olive groves offer society are handled. Lastly, this cultural landscape also represents the transcendent, symbolic significance of the olives to culture (not just the landscape) in the Mediterranean.
Its exceptional universal value is the result of how apt the olive grove landscapes of Andalusia are at enriching our own knowledge and at fostering some of the most authentic manifestations of Mediterranean rural culture. The continuity and presence of the olive tree throughout history and the multiple uses it has means it is not only the most representative olive-oil producing landscape out there (olive oil being a product essential to the Mediterranean diet and culture). As a matter of fact, its uses and the specialisation, expertise and research we see in this region also shows us the immense historical impact the olive tree has had and will continue to have. In addition to these values, it has great socio-economic significance. After all, the olive tree provides particularly vulnerable areas with a livelihood like no other resource.
All in all, the geographical, historical and scenic characteristics of the Andalusian olive grove are evidence of its outstanding ability to adapt to challenging environments, its pivotal historical role in the economy, society and culture of this region, as well as its age-old importance as a landscape that has shaped Andalusia and the Mediterranean. This application also proposes that the olive tree has contributed to the symbolic value of the olive tree and its identity, the tree that is most representative of the Mediterranean.
Andalusia typifies the importance of this tree and the dependency on it. Andalusia's agroclimatic requirements have shaped the region and the uses of its land - land that has been the centre of the major Mediterranean civilisations since Antiquity: in the region's food, sacred texts and artwork. Furthermore, olives are a strategic crop for Andalusia. It is crucial not only socially, but also economically and culturally, for it covers vast expanses of land, it affects the lives of several farming families and it is a major source of work in rural areas. An integral part of this landscape since the Neolithic Era, in a prolonged and unfinished planting process that has shaped the Andalusian countryside and mountains, olive groves have shaped Andalusia's most representative and iconic agricultural area, an area that is crucial to understanding the Mediterranean region.
Olive groves enjoy a prominent position in Andalusia, an area where over half of Spain's olive groves are concentrated and that leads the world in olive oil production. It has been important for countless years as a source of wealth for the first civilisations to settle on the peninsula. Olive trees actually possess an extraordinary ability to adapt to their environment and are steeped in a long and fertile historical tradition that can be traced back to the first farming methods. It played a major role in the culture, economy and natural beauty of the Mediterranean and its landscapes.
Throughout their development, olive landscapes have demonstrated an extraordinary capacity to adapt to different environments, including the very toughest conditions (poor soils, extreme climates, steep gradients etc.) Olive trees are planted in various different ways, following the development of diverse techniques and expertise relating to soil and water management, which has resulted in diverse olive grove landscapes, products and cultures. What's more, the olive grove has played a major role in every cultural period of significance to Andalusia and indeed the Mediterranean world, and it has had an impact on a system of historical elements, and, by studying the olive tree and its landscapes, we can trace Andalusian culture in every civilisation in every era.
In terms of heritage, Andalusian olive groves - and olive trees in general - are highly appreciated for their uses and their symbolism. Olive trees have traditionally been used in numerous rituals and ceremonies due to their qualities. The myths and symbols that surround olive trees date back to ancient civilisations in the Mediterranean region, and are also very significant in popular Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Olive trees are also historically and pluralistically symbolic both in terms of the exaltation of material values (abundance, wealth) and immaterial values (a sign of immortality, as the olive tree has lived, borne fruit and been renewed for thousands of years). A symbol of the bond between nature and man (a tree that did not decay from the waters caused by the Flood, as represented by the dove with an olive branch in its beak), individual values (the victory of the warrior or the athlete) and collective values (the advent of peace after battle, the calm after the disaster or passing into the next life once anointed). Amongst the Romantics of the 19th century, the olive grove was renowned as a sad, melancholic landscape. It was a social landscape of protest in poetry in post-war Spain, and a sorrowful landscape in Flamenco. It is always perceived as an intensely anthropomorphised landscape and an expression of economic sustenance. Much like the olive tree, olive oil also shares mythic, sacred attributes, and it is the symbol of the outstanding qualities its beneficial properties possess. These are associations that developed throughout the daily lives of the Mediterranean people. They ploughed the land with oil-covered ploughs, rubbed it on their bodies to protect themselves, used it in lamps to light up their houses and their temples, and they used it in anointment rituals, where olive oil was the symbol of God's spirit.
In short, if there is a single crop that has become an integral part of Andalusia's age-old culture , then this is surely the olive grove: it is a source of literary, musical and artistic inspiration for our artists, and it has also been the hallmark for many of the major movements to have come about in our region. It is also linked to, and forms a vital part of, the Mediterranean Diet and Flamenco thematically speaking; both of which have been recognised as Human Intangible Heritage. The Mediterranean diet has also given rise to a substantial pool of knowledge and intangible culture that guarantees the preservation and development of traditional, artisan activities in many communities in Mediterranean countries. These are values that the cultural landscape of the olive grove also share.
The olive grove thus represents a landscape of exceptional universal value due to its historical, ethnological and aesthetic importance. In this sense, its “universal” nature ought to be understood as being highly representative of the Mediterranean culture of which it is a part. In other words, as an area of exceptional historical interest, the cultural landscape of The olive grove landscapes of Andalusia possesses all the natural, cultural, social and economic characteristics that make it a prime example of olive-producing areas in the Mediterranean. The olive-growing traditions of Andalusia also have unique, diverse traits that give the area its very own identity in the world of olive growing. The culture of a land where you cannot understand one without understanding the other. The olive grove landscapes of Andalusia are thus far more than trees spread out across the land. They encapsulate all the traditional knowledge that has transformed what was a Mediterranean forest of wild olive trees into a cultural landscape, as complex as it is multifunctional. Today, this landscape also meets the expectations of the community in other ways: it has perceptual functions (visual quality and its evocative capacity), historical functions (regional relationships, preservation of cultural features) and environmental ones (biodiversity, conservation of species and habitats and providing services for regulating ecosystems). In fact, we can even say that, in this territory, the olive tree sets the pace of life; an area and a society whose very existence is dependent on this tree.
Criterion (iii): The olive grove landscapes of Andalusia constitute a unique testimony of a cultural tradition that is genuinely Mediterranean: olive-growing culture, which involves the cultivation of one of the world's basic food products, olive oil, a tradition that is still protected and thriving today.
The agricultural activity of olive growing is a social practice that has made an indelible, undeniable contribution to human civilisation as well as an essential, unparalleled contribution to the human diet. It has done this both as a component essential to human survival, but also due to how it has helped people live a healthy and decent life, with solidarity and equality. The olive grove landscapes of Andalusia thus bear extraordinary witness to an agricultural tradition that has maintained a balance between tradition and development. An undeniable cultural and social reality that has developed over the centuries, and which is still thriving today. It has created cultural solidarity that transcends administrative barriers, and it remains actively engaged with its past. The rich mosaic of landscape these olive groves cover is testament to the evolution of these landscapes over the years. The olive grove gives rise to a productive activity that unites its rural environment, an activity that is based on a strong sense of solidarity. This explains to a large extent the labourer movements that have shaped Andalusian social history since the end of the 19th century.
The characteristics of The olive grove landscapes of Andalusia are representative of a whole range of activities that are linked to an olive-growing environment: planting techniques, pruning, irrigating and managing the olive trees; adaptation to various geographical areas in the territory (valleys, mountainsides, terraces), and using and experimenting with different ways of producing oil. This is evidenced by a fascinating and specialised cultural heritage of olive-growing as well as a rich intangible heritage based on food, festivals and folklore, which encapsulates the diverse ethnological and anthropological manifestations of olive culture. The extraordinary nature of The olive grove landscapes of Andalusia is not merely due to their sheer scale –the biggest concentration of trees planted by humans on the European continent– but also to the historical importance that these trees and their products (olives and olive oil) have acquired in the daily lives and cultures of the Mediterranean people: they make up an vegetable oil that is obtained using mechanical processes and no chemical products. From the early traditional olive mills and presses used during Roman times to the start of the 20th century, when a major technological change came about with the introduction of hydraulic presses, which were replaced at the end of the last century by modern, continuous systems of oil extraction. Examples of mills and presses that remain preserved and a number of visitor centres and museums in the region, enabling us to understand the history first-hand. Major contributions that olive growing has made to human history, scientific and technical advances, historical ways in which work was organised, property and production.
Recently, this olive landscape –the landscape most representative of olive growing not only in the Mediterranean, but in Europe and around the world– is seeing the introduction of incentives promoting improved quality, technological innovation and research in processes of olive production and management. As such, it is an excellent example of a traditional way of life that is linked to cultivation that is constantly changing and improving. This is demonstrated by the increasing introduction of a range of good agro-environmental practices, in addition to a keen focus on high-quality olive production and the association with a specific territory. In this regard, Andalusia is also a pioneer in olive grove research centres (the University of Jaén Centre of Advanced Research into Olive Trees and Olive Oil, the Science & Technology Park in the province of Jaén and the Institute of Research and Training in Agriculture and Fishing).
Criterion (v): The olive grove landscapes of Andalusia are an excellent example of traditional forms of land use that are representative of an intelligent ability to adapt to tough geographical conditions involving poor soil and extreme climates. They are a shining example of the interaction between human and the environment. This is because humans have been able to adapt olive growing very proficiently thanks to the long and slow acquisition of savoir-faire relating to olive growing, and thereby achieve the best possible results when it comes to selecting olive tree varieties whilst bearing in mind diverse agroclimatic conditions, soil types, technical capacities as well as agricultural and technological innovations for perfecting olive production and improving the quality of the oil. This know-how has been accumulated over the millennia, transforming Andalusia into a region of international repute for its olive groves and olive oil, and one which is increasingly committed to the overall quality of its olive grove system.
The millennia-old understanding of traditional olive groves, which we can distinguish by the methods used to manage them, is of exceptional value, which we must protect and safeguard against other industrialised models that we see today. It is a cultural landscape that is also the culmination of an agricultural process that has been a model of management, and one which has maintained a balance over the centuries. Traditional olive groves that keep the population put and which prevent land with poor natural conditions being abandoned, an ever-growing series of intelligent cultivation methods that are still surviving thanks to practices that do not neglect modern techniques or more advanced agricultural research, without neglecting old agricultural techniques that were wisely passed down, and which were the result of successful adaptation. An enduring attitude of perseverance and determination has resulted in a crop that sustains a veritable social, economic and cultural structure, committed to care and use of diverse practices both for the tree and the quality of the olive oil produced.
Criterion (vi): Being an Evolving and Living Cultural Landscape, the fact the landscape meets the above criteria (it is an outstanding example of a living cultural tradition, a cultural landscape that is representative of major periods in history and an example of extraordinary and unique forms of land use) demonstrates the intangible nature of its cultural, ethnological and historical characteristics across the board. As such, it also fulfils criterion (vi) by being directly or tangibly associated with living traditions, ideas and beliefs of outstanding universal significance.
Since oil is the core element that gives rise to the complex cultural tapestry of the world of the olive grove, everything to do with the production and traditional use of this oil, in cuisine as well as other fields (industry, cosmetics and so on), it actually forms part of a corpus that is both cultural and historical. It is in turn linked to the Mediterranean world, which gives this cultural landscape exceptional heritage value. Diverse cultural characteristics –whether tangible or intangible– that have developed, and which are viewed and recognised as the hallmarks of an olive-growing culture; characteristics that go beyond values derived from the original uses of the trees, as in the case of cultivation tools and instruments, festive rituals and acts, culinary knowledge and so on.
The olive grove landscapes included in this proposal are an example of traditional landscapes that are highly valuable in terms of heritage. They represent the varied uses and functions of the olive grove, different geographical locations and environments, historical periods, cultivation methods, plant varieties and management systems, which all reflect the multiple facets and cultural, socio-economic and perceptual characteristics present in the vast cultural landscape of the Andalusian olive grove. All these attributes demonstrate the exceptional universal value of a prime cultural landscape that represents Mediterranean culture. It is a landscape where territorial and socio-economic realities linked to the olive grove have created an “olive culture” that forms part of the landscape's very own identity, not to mention the spirit and sensitivity of the olive-growing people, which reflects a deep respect for this tree as well as the perpetual evolution of this crop from Antiquity to the present day. The authenticity of this culture is apparent in its various traditions and cultural manifestations as well as the numerous, reliable sources of information that discuss olive trees from several different angles: cultivation and socio-economic, ethnograpic, archaeological, historical, architectural, urban and landscape-related aspects, as well as legal and agricultural issues.
The specific selection of landscapes also reflects the authenticity of “expertise”. In every major area, we find evidence of human solutions and adaptations to the distinctive characteristics and conditions of the soil, the presence of water and varying weather conditions. As such, the olive grove and the agricultural practices and cultural associations with it offer us a broad overview of all its adaptations and distinctive features. This authenticity is also apparent in the landscape's agricultural heritage, which is the result of slow adaptation processes that have given us several different varieties of olive trees, olive oils, plantations, irrigation systems, types of land and different-sized plots. All in all, it is a unique heritage site thanks to its typological and morphological diversity, and the range of intangible local values, structures and characteristics. This authenticity is also visible in the extraordinary richness and diversity of the landscape: meandering hills traversed by the geometry of the olive groves, terraces and hillsides hugging the stone walls, earth ridges as well as parapets and rough slopes in rows that extend up to the mountains... All this forms a territory where green olives contrast with white villages, villages that the olive tree and its oil have been sustaining during a unique, age-long process that has seen this land become inhabited. This has given rise to a network of hamlets, villages and towns in rural Andalusia that is capable of maintaining decent living conditions and a decent quality of life. And of course, in its perception as a vast expanse of land, its authenticity is also connected to the land's uniqueness and extraordinary aesthetics – the result of it being an archetype of single-crop farming that evokes staggering images and ideas, as well as parallels to seascapes. Indeed, this is why this landscape is popularly known as the “sea of olive trees”.
The Olive Grove Landscapes of Andalusia contain all the elements that exemplify the exceptional values that so define this cultural landscape. What’s more, they also comprehensively represent the most important processes and characteristics of olive grove culture. Olive groves that are subject to traditional techniques that are not suffering the adverse effects of development or the impact of processes of deterioration. Regarding fruit bearing olive groves and those groves that are protected and subject to regulations, we can guarantee the preservation of the relationships and the dynamic, ever-changing functions that are so apparent in this cultural landscape, and which are essential in ensuring it safeguards its distinctive character. The culture of the olive tree can thus be seen as the element that combines everything, in other words that which defines and characterises the territory that makes up The Olive Grove Landscapes of Andalusia.
The property as a whole combined with the area covered - in which olive grove landscape is ever present - combine to form a land unit that is even larger once different sub-units of landscape have been included. These sub-units of landscape demonstrate how well humans have adapted to a territory shaped by the landscape thanks to a crop that is deeply rooted in the life of countless societies. By using the material evidence that each of these units of landscape gives us, we are able to read into the long historical process of adaptation this crop has undergone, as well as the cultural cycle they represent, not to mention the typological diversity and the variety of landscapes, techniques, methods, olive tree varieties and so on. All the landscapes harbour a number of features that demonstrate their uniqueness, which in turn are testament to their integrity in terms of the attributes that reflect each landscape's uniqueness and exceptional nature.
The methodological focus for this comparative analysis stems from the study The World Heritage List. Filling the gaps, an action plan for the future, drawn up by ICOMOS in 2005 to contribute to the Global strategy for compiling a representative, balanced and credible World Heritage List. This is a study that uses three frameworks to identify possible gaps or flaws in the representativeness of the World Heritage List: a typological, chronological-regional and thematic framework.
In the typological framework, The Olive Grove Landscapes of Andalusia could fit into section 10 (Cultural Landscapes), whereas in the chronological-regional framework, its representativeness could be broader. Specifically, it could extend from the Neolithic Era right up to traditional cultivation during the mid-20th century when agricultural techniques were used that still are today. This context is broad enough for us to consider every potential olive grove landscape that has come to exist in the world since prehistoric times. It does not limit us to the Mediterranean world. After all, numerous olive plantations are sprouting up in over regions all over the planet (the Americas, for example). Lastly, if we take the thematic framework, we see that various areas could actually be combined, particularly those related to the “use of natural resources” and the “development of technologies”. Nevertheless, there are countless relationships in a cultural landscape dominated by agriculture. After all, the cultural traditions as well as aspirations and social values in the interaction between humans and nature point to the existence of a continuous process of human transformation, where cultivation of the physical environment have moulded the landscapes since prehistory, and agriculture is one of the activities with the greatest capacity to shape cultural landscapes.
In this particular case, and in view of all the aspects mentioned above, we are dealing with a living, evolving cultural landscape where the main activity is agriculture - olive growing, to be precise. This is in view of the fact that, when identifying and selecting representative cultural landscapes for the WHL, they must not only be unusual and unique, they must exemplify the type of landscape they belong to or represent. In light of all these factors, it makes sense for the comparative study on The olive grove landscapes of Andalusia to refer to all the properties listed as living, evolving cultural landscapes, especially the agricultural landscapes, regardless of their geographical area or the geostrategic setting.
Ever since the status of “Cultural Landscape” was established by UNESCO in 1992, and despite difficulties classifying it (many landscapes were listed as such at an early date, and may fall into more than one category. In fact, some archaeological landscapes such as Stonehenge and Avebury were already previously listed as monuments or sites), the World Heritage List contains over a hundred properties that meet the criteria of a cultural landscape. Among these, at least 20 of those are agricultural landscapes, the most common crops being grapevine in 7 wine-making landscapes, all in Europe, along with other single-crop growing landscapes: two rice landscapes (the Philippines and Asia) -a crop that is symbolic of agriculture in south-east Asia, where it makes up the population's staple diet; agave landscapes in Tequila (Mexico), where blue agave is grown; coffee-growing landscapes in south-east Cuba and the tobacco growing landscapes of the Viñales Valley (Cuba).
In Spain, there are three cultural landscapes that feature on the World Heritage List. The Palm Grove of Elche (2000), Aranjuez (2001), which is a designed landscape, and Serra de Tramuntana in Majorca (2011), the only one of the three that is a Mediterranean landscape based on the cultivation of land on terraces, shaped by a Medieval water supply system. As we can see, none of these landscapes is representative of olive growing. There is only one cultural landscape on the World Heritage List where the olive tree is expressly mentioned: The Cultural Landscape of Palestine: land of olive groves and vineyards, listed in 2014. It is in the village of Battir, south of Jerusalem, which is a series of valleys with non-irrigated land and terraces where olive trees and vines grow, in addition to irrigated terraces with fruit trees and vegetables. It is an example of a Mediterranean multi-crop landscape with particular cultural significance, which is very different to the single-crop farming of the Andalusian countryside.
Lastly, the study entitled “World Heritage Cultural Landscapes 1992-2002" by P.J. Fowler, which was published in 2003 by the UNESCO Centre for World Heritage, details a strategic focus regarding representativeness, referring to landscapes that owe their existence to the cultivation of the world's staple food items. Along with the best-known landscapes, i.e. where grapevines and rice are grown, other striking examples include landscapes that produce potatoes (Peru, Ecuador and Ireland), yams (Central Africa), corn (the terraces of the Andes), cereals (the Russian Federation, Canada, the USA) and the taro root (Hawaii). A universal, thematic approach that looks at the landscape and the harvest, and which would be of added scientific interest in that it links the landscape to the concept of the heredity of genetic diversity that we see in different crop varieties.
In other words, there are other crops that can be found in the Mediterranean, such as grapevines or cereals, and these have similar historical benchmarks. They do not, however, shape the landscape as continuously as the olive grove – an agricultural system that is unique due to its territorial features and its social and cultural implications. Hence, including The Olive Grove Landscapes of Andalusia on the WHL as an agricultural landscape that produces one of the staple foods for the Mediterranean region would not only mean representing a solely olive-growing landscape - and the range of different products the olive provides - it would also be a major symbol of the cultural identity of Andalusia and the Mediterranean. We can also say there is no cultural landscape or cultural property that mentions a territory where the cultivation of olive trees has been so thriving and persistent, or a crop that has been cultivated for centuries by generations by olive growers and olive oil producers. In view of all this, and with the aim of helping to safeguard and improve how olive trees are cultivated, there would be many benefits in promoting this candidacy.