The Côa Valley region, classified by UNESCO as World Heritage, is a vast territory in the interior north of
Portugal, of around 200km2, with a low demographic density. Within this region, full of history and
heritage since thousands of years, there is an important palaeolithic art cluster with over 80 rock art
sites and 1200 engraved rocks. Also since immemorial times, the olive tree, the vineyards, and almond
trees have been part of the landscape and way of living of local populations. Unfortunately, the olive
tree is being progressively abandoned in the last decades, contributing to landscape decharacterization,
loss of biodiversity and heritage. In the actual scenario of climate change, the emergence of new pests
and diseases, extreme weather events, genetic diversity is of utmost importance.
This project aims to characterize and bring value to the ancestral olive heritage of the Côa Valley region,
taking into account its historical importance from the economic, historical, cultural and landscape points
of view, for its present and future valorisation. In order to achieve this goal, a multidisciplinary
consortium of two public higher education institutions (IPB, UP), two research centres (CIMO,
Requimte), the Coa Park Foundation, and a strongly established association of farmers and local
development (Subcontracting CGEAEDC) was stablished, accounting also with the support from
international specialists from the World Olive Germoplasm Bank in Cordoba (Spain) and the
International Olive Council.
The project objective will be achieved by performing six interconnected tasks that contribute to a
common goal. The first, task 1, is dedicated to global management and coordination while in task 2 the
centenary olive trees of the Côa Valley region will be inventoried, mapped and georeferenced to select
the specimens to work on the following tasks. At this stage, 10 spots will be selected, selecting 15 to 20
centenary olive trees on each, in a total of 200 specimens. In task 3 different molecular markers, as SSR
and EST-SNP, together will morphological data, will be used to build a database of the germplasm
biodiversity of the Côa Valley region, while allowing it to be compared with worldwide collections
dedicated to the theme. This information will be complemented with the extraction of olive oils from
each specimen and their characterization by physicochemical parameters, composition data (fatty acids,
tocopherols, phenolic and volatile compounds), together with sensorial attributes, contributing for the
characterization of the chemical and sensorial diversity of the olive oils from the Côa Valley region
centenarian olive trees. Linking with community and product enhancement will be the focus of task 5,
where the information gathered in the previous tasks will support proposals for the development of
new products and services, thus contributing to maintain population in this low-density populated
territory, creating value and resources for the region. Together with local stakeholders, a new line of
products from centenary olive trees on the Côa Valley region will be developed and characterized, using
olives, olive oil and olive leaves. Simultaneously, and using the collected information through the
project, the Côa Valley Region region “Old Olive Tree Open Gallery” will be developed, which aims to be
a living gallery of the “Côa Museum”. Using a QRcode, each centenarian olive trees will be identified,
and all the knowledge obtained in the project will be made available about its genetic information,
chemical and sensory composition diversity, its history, interaction with man and the environment.
Finally, task 6 will be dedicated to the dissemination of results obtained throughout the entire project.
The execution of this project, in addition to the development and enhancement of the olive tree in Côa
Valley region, will promote scientific knowledge increase, rural development and settlement of
populations in an area of low population density.