July 16, 2009

Olive Trees A Concern On Greek Islands

An agronomy institute said on Wednesday that scientists are trying to catalogue hundreds of olive trees on the Greek island of Crete in an attempt to save them from abandonment amid falling olive prices.

Olives have been a Cretan staple and a major source of income for centuries, but falling prices threaten the trees' as the crop is unprofitable.

Some of the trees on the island date back to more than 1,000 years ago, which is as old as Greece's farmed archeological treasures, scientists say. 

"We want to determine the age of these natural monuments and protect them," Dimitris Lidakis, director of Crete's School of Agronomy told AFP.

Hundreds of olive trees have already been cleared for construction, which prompted the environmental initiative organized by about 30 associations and was backed by the local technical institute.

Bella Lasithiotaki, the organizer, said that one olive tree in the northern village of Vyrsses in Rethymno prefecture was over 1,000 years old, with a trunk around 66 feet in circumference.

The semi-state Athens News Agency reported that another four trees of the same age have been located in the neighboring prefecture of Iraklio.

Chinese President Hu Jinato visited a Crete archaeological cooperative last year, where he helped workers pick olives.

Image Courtesy Wikipedia