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Pruning waste management and climate change in Sierra Mágina’s olive groves (Andalusia, Spain)


In the context of climate change, concern is raising about the negative effects of some pruning waste management practices. On the one hand, burning of pruning residue is seen as controversial regarding its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, chipping the wood and using it as mulch is seen as highly risky regarding pest and disease control. Considering these issues, it is important to try to understand how and why these practices are adopted. In this study, we conducted in-depth interviews and survey questionnaires in the olive-growing region of Sierra Mágina (Andalusia) in order to explore (1) which were the pruning waste management practices in place, (2) which had been these practices in the past, and (3) which were the factors influencing the choice of different practices. Since 2010, there has been a shift in pruning waste management practices in this region, from stubble burning to chipping. This change seems to be led by older/retired farmers that have young and non-inherited groves. Moreover, this change is shown not to be necessarily a result of “greening” in agriculture but rather a result of intensification and mechanization. These results are discussed regarding the processes of innovation adoption in the region and the possible unforeseen externalities that derive from this change in pruning waste management practices.

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We would like to thank all the researchers who have collaborated on this project series for their corrections and suggestions, as well as to the anonymous reviewers and the editor of this journal for their comments and insights. We would also like to thank the locals of Sierra Mágina for their time and enthusiasm, especially to Miguel Yanes for facilitating researcher’s housing and most of the interviews. Finally, we are also grateful to James Benyei for the proof reading of this manuscript.


This research was conducted in the context of the project “OLIZERO: Stratégies locales de valorisation énergétique de la biomasse. Vers des territoires oléicoles zéro carbone?” which was funded by the University Sorbonne Paris Cité under the Idex projects “Projet interdisciplinaire Lied ‘Les énergies de demain’”.

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Correspondence to Petra Benyei.

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Editor:Wolfgang Cramer.

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Benyei, P., Cohen, M., Gresillon, E. et al. Pruning waste management and climate change in Sierra Mágina’s olive groves (Andalusia, Spain). Reg Environ Change 18, 595–605 (2018).

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  • Climate change
  • Changing practices
  • Lexicometry
  • Olive groves
  • Pruning waste management
  • Sierra Mágina