Row as 1,000 year olive tree is sold to the French

28th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

28 April 2005, MADRID-A row has blown up in Spain over a 1,000 year olive tree which has been sold to the French, with many accusing the authorities of failing to protect Spanish heritage.

28 April 2005

MADRID-A row has blown up in Spain over a 1,000 year olive tree which has been sold to the French, with many accusing the authorities of failing to protect Spanish heritage.

Weighing 16 tonnes and with a girth of seven metres, the tree from the eastern province of Castellon needed a flat-bed trailer to haul it to its new home in a park near the French town of Royan.

It had provided olives and oil for at least 50 generations of people from the village of Calig but was sold for EUR 25,000.

The sale led to demands for laws to save Spain's 1,000-year-old or older olive trees of which there may be 1,200 in Castellon alone.

"In the long term, it is much more beneficial to hold on to our patrimony than sell it to the highest bidder," Ramon Mampel, head of a local olive oil cooperative, told the local Levante newspaper.

The olive trees of Castellon are among the world's oldest and there are now calls for them to be given the same protection as ancient buildings.

DNA tests have revealed that some may be 2,000 years old.

The specimen sold to the Jardins du Monde park in Royan has been dated at anything between 800 and 1,800 years old.

Mampel said one way of preventing the uprooting of the valuable trees was through the specialised production of "millennium" olive oil.

"It has helped slow down the destruction, though there is still work to do," he said.

Angel Cortiella, director of the company which bought the tree off a local farmer two years ago and sold it on to the French park, said: "Foreigners are good clients for these kind of trees, and they love to have one like this, normally for ornamental purposes.

"It was the biggest and most beautiful olive tree that we had ... though we are happy with the deal," he added.

But Levante disagreed. "A tree like this should have legal protection to prevent it from being taken from the region ... " the paper said.

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Subject: Spanish news

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