The Making of Olive Landscapes in the South of Spain. A History of Continuous Expansion and Intensification

  • Juan Infante-Amate
  • Inmaculada Villa
  • Eduardo Aguilera
  • Eva Torremocha
  • Gloria Guzmán
  • Antonio Cid
  • Manuel González de MolinaEmail author
Part of the Environmental History book series (ENVHIS, volume 5)


The objective of this work is to make an additional contribution that reveals new evidence about the nature of Mediterranean landscapes, their historical construction and the consequences of their transformation process. For this, we want to study the case of what is perhaps the most representative crop of the region: olive groves. The study area is the south of Spain which, for more than a century, has had the main concentration of olive trees in the Mediterranean and currently has the highest concentration of cultivated trees in the continent, with a continuous wood of more than 200 million trees. In the study period, between 1750 and 2010, we will outline the change in the social function of the crop, the management applied, the resulting landscapes and the socio-ecological consequences of the change. As we will see, historically, olive groves have not presented a constant image, but have changed from being a widespread crop, similar to exploitation systems such as dehesas and montados, to the industrial monoculture that they are today. The reconstruction of the geography of their expansion and the change in the morphology of olive grove landscapes and its causes, enable us to rebuild one of the most representative fragments of traditional Mediterranean landscapes, the olive groves of the south of Spain, and, with it, to participate in some of the debates that still persist about this matter.


Olive Olive history Olive landscapes Mediterranean landscapes Environmental history Biocultural diversity 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juan Infante-Amate
    • 1
  • Inmaculada Villa
    • 1
  • Eduardo Aguilera
    • 1
  • Eva Torremocha
    • 1
  • Gloria Guzmán
    • 1
  • Antonio Cid
    • 1
  • Manuel González de Molina
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Agro-ecosystems History LaboratoryUniversity Pablo de OlavideSevilleSpain

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