The Local Environment
Spain is one of the biggest Olive Oil producing countries in the world, and the oil produced is universally recognised as being of the highest quality, BUT, as with all things, times are changing, and the modern lifestyle demanded by so many of the younger generation has left very little time for the traditional methods of cultivating olives, whether for producing oil or for eating. However, over the last couple of years or so there has been an increase in the amount of landowners once again returning to work their land.
A few years ago, more and more olive groves were being removed or abandoned, being replaced by modern housing: ironically usually for those who wanted to pursue the traditional way of life. Other olive groves were just left as abandoned plots until fire or a similar disaster destroyed them. It is encouraging to see a return to olive farming by so many.
In this part of Spain many locals (this includes the local government) are trying to change the seemingly irreversible decline of olive production. El Comtat (this local region) has for many years been acknowledged to be one of the best oil producing areas in Spain and continues to be so. 'Oli El Comtat' produces oil using modern, innovative methods and equipment, but if local production capacity falls then obviously less oil will be produced, more land will become derelict or even worse, built on and the local environment will be changed forever.
The Government has been trying to introduce plans to reduce the harmful impact of chemicals on the local environment, thereby paving the way for far more organic oil production, encouraging local producers to adopt a more 'responsible' attitude to disposal of waste products and generally enforcing a more '21st century attitude' to the environment.
We personally took steps towards improving our little piece of the planet by ceasing to use any form of insecticide, using mulchers to re-cycle our tree prunings and other organic waste (instead of burning, as was previously normal), rotavating the land instead of applying harmful and non-selective herbicides and using totally organic fertilisers instead of chemically enhanced nitrates.
The maintenance of our trees helps to provide a wonderful, natural environment for countless small creatures. Each mature tree is home to dozens of different insects and most provide roosting and nesting space for many different species of bird. The trunks and roots give a safe haven for many small mammals.
When one takes into account the uncultivated areas on the margins of the terraces, our olive groves provide an almost perfect living and hunting space for many, many species, most of which are becoming endangered in those areas where the land and trees are being removed in favour of housing development.
On the land there is a very large Spanish Oak tree, which has a large crop of acorns which proves irresistible to the local wild boar population. Despite being a relatively shy breed, and rarely seen, there is a thriving population of wild boar in the area.