With the final selection process for European Heritage Stories 2019 grants now well under way, we are taking a look back at one of the projects awarded in 2018, exploring the story of the beautiful Ancient Olive Trees in the Senia Territory of Catalonia.
It is often easy to overlook the treasures in our natural landscapes. For this reason, in order to celebrate some of the oldest witnesses of the development of the community in the region, the story of the Ancient Olive Trees in the Senia Territory was selected as one of the grantees in the European Heritage Stories 2018.
The Mancomunidad Taula del Sénia, the grantee and project coordinator, has participated in European Heritage Days for the past 4 years, using the festival as a chance to share unknown and forgotten heritage stories.
The community of the Senia territory recognised the importance of the trees as a central feature of their natural, cultural and historic heritage. They also recognised that more needed to be done to protect them, and to teach people about their history.
The area, shared between three regions - Aragon, Catalonia and the region of Valencia, has the largest concentration of ancient olive trees in the world. With around 5000 trees, the area even hosts the world’s oldest, located near the small town of Ulldecona in the Senia area. The tree was even standing in Roman times, dating back to the reign of Constantine I.
The project was based on the preservation of the trees and their landscapes, involving the local community in order to teach them about the trees’ history and learn about how to protect them.
The activities carried out throughout the project aimed to initiate better cooperation between the institutions and groups working on the preservation of the ancient olive trees landscape. The process included the scientific congress: “The Ancient Olive Trees, European Heritage Stories.” Held in Ulldecona in November 2018, the congress allowed for a dialogue between the different institutions involved.
The Ancient Olive Trees project honoured the people behind the heritage in a true European Heritage Stories manner. Farmers of the region whose hard work made the preservation possible were honoured with a special wooden plaque which was printed with the Certificate of Excellence presented to the European Heritage Stories grantees.
The project explored ways to improve sustainable tourism practices in the region by organising guided tours. Celebrating the olive oil that is of course a speciality of the region, it also involved local producers and representatives of the catering and hospitality industry in the initiative.
Other activities included cross-regional dialogue and activities for school children.
At the heart of the historical, cultural and natural heritage of the region and the local community, the story of the olive trees in Senia is not just of local significance – the olive tree is at the centre of communities across Europe. The project can serve as inspiration to communities across the continent, improving awareness about both natural and cultural heritage, and the importance of sharing across cultures.
Follow their work on Facebook here.