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Climate change could alter the productivity of Mediterranean olive

Climate change could alter the productivity of Mediterranean olive

03/25/2014 - Italian and U.S. researchers have used a demographic model to predict the alterations that olive production in the Mediterranean could suffer if the average global temperature increases 2 º C between 2030 and 2060, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has noted recently.

This work, published in the PNAS journal, shows that climate change will have a direct impact on the olive harvest and the olive fly plague, modifying the economics of farming in these regions.
 
The study notes that in this scenario the net benefit for the olive harvest would increase 9.6% on average, due to the decrease of the olive fly plague and the increase in olive production. However, the response of olive growing areas to global warming would be different in each case, because while in North Africa the performance would increase up to 41%, in the Middle East it would decrease 7.1%, as reported by the Science News and Information Service (SINC).
 
In this sense, researchers emphasize that climate change will affect the performance of the olives at different levels in the Mediterranean basin, so there will be economic gains and losses at local and regional scale.

Locally, the profitability of small olive farms in many marginal areas in Europe and elsewhere in the Mediterranean Basin will decrease, and this situation will increase the dropout rate. These holdings, according to the study, are essential for soil conservation, maintenance of biodiversity and reducing the risk of fires in these areas.
 
Luigi Ponti, researcher of the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), and lead author of the study, has warned that “this scenario described is an example of what could happen in some particular cases, and it is not an exact prediction of the future”.
 
In the case of Spain, this model predicts an increase in net profit, despite the rise in rates of controls and the decrease in oil quality because of the intensity of the proliferation of the olive fly, although in the country’s central zone these benefits will probably decrease.
 
For this work, according to the researcher, biological processes that govern the dynamics of the olive and olive fly have been used, being useful in bio-economic analysis to warn about the climate effects exerted on the biological system.

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