Around Greece

Protecting the Ancient Olive Trees in Crete

“These trees helped our parents put clothes on our backs and send us to university. It is thanks to these trees that Crete is what it is. Its cultural development is thanks to them. Yet no one cares for these olive trees that have fed millions of people for thousands of years, that have been worshipped and adored.”

Aris Koutakis becomes emotional when he talks about the destruction he has witnessed around his home in Amari, a district of Rethymno that extends to the foothills of Mount Psiloritis and is famed for having some of Crete’s oldest olive trees.

“Organized crews that are cashing in on the fact that most of the residents are elderly come here and, without getting permission from anyone, cut down entire groves of olive trees, even trees that date back 2,000 years,” Koutakis laments. “There are also people who cut them down out of desperation because they no longer yield fruit or income. But it pains them to do so.”

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