Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 18.COM 8.A.2

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Türkiye has nominated Traditional knowledge, methods and practices concerning olive cultivation (No. 01983) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

In Türkiye, olive cultivation refers to grafting, pruning and fertilizing wild olive trees, called delice, and to picking, harvesting and processing the olives. The methods used are based on traditional knowledge and practices concerning nature, such as ideal soil characteristics, climate and manure. The olive trees are grafted and picked according to the folk calendar, and several rituals, festivals and social practices (such as folk plays, dances, contests and feasts) mark the beginning and end of the harvest season. For instance, villagers come together to pick the first olives of the season, and some olives are deliberately left in the groves for poor people to pick. The traditional knowledge, methods and practices have been transmitted within families and villages for centuries, orally and by participating in the associated practices. Today, publications, non-formal education courses and informative seminars also contribute to their transmission. In addition to the symbolism of the olive tree and leaf (which are associated with peace, eternity, wisdom and harmony) the practices concerning olive cultivation enhance solidarity, cooperation and harmony within the community. The element also contributes to environmental sustainability efforts and plays an important role in maintaining social and cultural identity, particularly in rural areas.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

U.1:   The element concerns the traditional knowledge, methods and practices of taking care of wild olive trees and processing the olives. There are rituals, social practices and festivals related to the beginning and end of the harvest season. Bearers and the practitioners are mostly the small olive grove owners and farmers in rural areas in Türkiye. Men graft, prune and fertilize the olive trees. Women pick, preserve, ferment and package the olives. Both men and women extract olive oils in stone oil mills. NGOs, public entities, researchers, private museums and traditional olive oil producers are also part of the bearers and practitioners. The element has been transmitted in rural areas for centuries within families and communities, and the knowledge is available through scientific studies and articles. The element promotes a sustainable relationship between human and nature, provides a source of income and contributes to environmental sustainability.

U.2:   While the production of olive oil is viable, the traditional knowledge and skills associated with olive tree processes are endangered and in need of urgent safeguarding. General threats include over-commercialization, urbanization and migration, but the specific threats are: (a) a rapid decrease in olive trees despite the increase in the number of plantations; (b) the disappearance of the traditional knowledge and practices related to olive tree grafting and pruning; (c) an increase in the use of modern spraying methods and chemical fertilizers in agriculture; (d) the disappearance of local olive varieties; (e) the loss of traditional knowledge and practices related to olive harvesting and processing; and (f) the disappearance of traditional knowledge and methods of olive oil extraction.

U.3:   Past and current safeguarding measures include educational activities, information meetings and trainings, awareness-raising campaigns, academic research, and the creation of documentaries. The proposed safeguarding plan defines the expected results, a timetable and budget. Its three main objectives are: (a) preserving and improving olive groves and olive trees; (b) ensuring the viability of the element through inventorying, archiving, protecting, safeguarding and sustaining the transmission of the traditional knowledge, methods, techniques and practices; and (c) raising awareness about the element and about intangible cultural heritage in general. Communities were involved in planning the safeguarding measures and will be involved in their implementation. The nomination form was prepared with their contribution, and the safeguarding plan foresees a monitoring committee with community representation. Furthermore, experienced bearers and practitioners will act as trainers to transmit the related knowledge and skills.

U.4:   The file outlines a process beginning in 2017 that revealed the threats to the element. The nomination file also describes various online and in-person meetings and field visits during which practitioners shared documentation and information, and contributed to the identification of the risks and proposed safeguarding measures related to the element. A national ‘File Preparation and Writing Meeting’ was held online in February 2022 with the participation of NGO representatives, private sector representatives, experts, local government representatives, bearers and practitioners. Various letters of consent were submitted by the practitioners, bearers, experts, institutions, NGOs and local authorities.

U.5:   The element has been listed since 2014 in the Intangible Cultural Heritage National Inventory of Türkiye, which is managed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Directorate General of Research and Training, the Intangible Cultural Heritage Evaluation Commission, and the Local Intangible Cultural Heritage Boards. Bearers and practitioners, experts, institutions and NGOs are involved in the inventorying process through Local Intangible Cultural Heritage Boards. The inventory is updated at least once a year. In some cases, it can be revised and updated two or three times a year.

  1. Decides to inscribe Traditional knowledge, methods and practices concerning olive cultivation on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
  2. Encourages the State Party to address the issue of youth and rural-to-urban migration in its safeguarding plan;
  3. Reminds the State Party to be vigilant about the potential over-commercialization of the element, while recognizing the importance of intangible cultural heritage for sustainable livelihoods.