| ||From November to February, the Mediterranean’s olive harvest is in full swing. Careful harvesting provides work, protects soil from compaction by heavy machinery, and produces extremely high-quality oil. Olive oil is popular all over the world for its nutritional and culinary properties, and it plays a part in many cuisines. Consumption has risen by 50 percent since 1990, rising from 1.6 million tons to 2.4 million in 1999. With its 840 million olive trees, olive cultivation in the Mediterranean has a bright future. Nonirrigated olive cultivation, which gets the best out of dry soils in a region where managing fresh water supplies is crucially important and soil degradation is a serious problem—is an example of sustainable use of soil, preservation of landscape, and support of populations living in economically marginal rural areas. It should retain its role in a region where tourism is eating up space and increasing pressure on land. The Mediterranean receives 30 percent of the world’s tourists.
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