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Operation Olive Tree: Greece Saves Centuries-Old Trees from Destruction

Greece Olive tree
A centuries-old olive tree being planted in downtown Athens. Credit: ERGOSE

More than 500 olive trees, some of which are centuries-old, have been saved so far by the almost unknown efforts of ERGOSE.

ERGOSE is a subsidiary company of TRAINOSE, the Greek Railway Operator, and its role is to construct and maintain the railway network of the country.

Since 2014, the company has been coordinating its efforts with the local authorities to save venerable olive trees.

Why is the Olive Tree Important in Greece?

The olive tree has been associated with Greece for millennia.

It symbolizes peace and prosperity, as well as the hope of resurrection and prosperous life. The purely Mediterranean Greek landscape is dotted with olive trees, and Greeks throughout the centuries have been inextricably linked with this plant.

For Ancient Greeks, the olive tree was one of two of the most respected mythical trees, along with the oak.

This deeply rooted love and respect shown by the Greeks has survived throughout the centuries.

Ancient Greeks used the fruit of the sacred tree to create olive oil, which was one of the most prized and useful substances in antiquity.

Greek olive oil, or “Liquid Gold,” as Homer called it, has been part of Greece’s history since ancient times. It is an irreplaceable nutritional component of the Greek diet.

Ancient Greeks also used olive oil as part of their efforts to enjoy a healthy life and to promote longevity, and used it as a cosmetic for the skin and hair. Today, Greek olive oil is considered by most as the best in the world.

What Has Been Done So Far

Since the ERGOSE company is responsible for expanding and maintaining the Greek railway network and has to decide if it should cut and destroy an olive tree to do its work?

The answer is simple for ERGOSE– it would rather replant such trees than destroy them.

This is the reason why more than 500 olive trees have been uprooted, carefully transferred, and re-planted in other areas of the country.

Recently, the company managed to save a four-centuries old olive tree from a construction site in the port-city of Patras, in Western Greece. The decision was easy: Carefully transfer the tree and plant it in a park somewhere else in the country.

The devastating wildfires of Eastern Attica in July 2018 not only claimed human lives but was an environmental catastrophe that ruined the landscape in Marathon, one of the most famous corners of Attica.

A year later, in 2019, hope returned to this important place: More than 60 trees were planted in the cities of Marathon and Rafina, the places most affected by this devastating wildfire.

All of these trees would have been destroyed if it wasn’t for ERGOSE’s efforts to preserve and save the olive trees.

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