Environmental impact

Economic (and other) consequences of Xylella

What are the consequences caused by Xylella?

There are multiple consequences of Xylella on olive trees in Salento; not only from a landscape and environmental point of view, but also from an economic and social one.

Consequences for the landscape

The Salento area used to be characterized by immense expanses of green olive trees, with their wide foliage and imposing trunks: due to theXylella attack, the olive groves have suffered desiccation of the foliage, leaving in the eyes of tourists, a sad and gloomy landscape but above all, for farmers, a land without a future.

Environmental consequences

21 million dead trees destroyed by the bacterium also means a reduction in major sources of carbon dioxide absorption: most of the CO2 in the atmosphere is absorbed by trees through the process of chlorophyll photosynthesis.

Olive trees have a very high absorption capacity: in fact, it is estimated that each olive tree is able to absorb about 600 kg of CO2 per year, about 2 kg per day.

Socio-economic consequences

In monetary terms, on the other hand, the Xylella attack has resulted in damages of around 20 billion euros.

This massive damage to the economy and society results from several factors:

  • Reduction in olive oil production.
  • The loss of jobs of many local farmers
  • The closure of numerous oil mills and farms
  • The devaluation of land where olive groves were planted.

Apulia was the leading producer of olive oil in Italy, so much so that it was able to meet about 50 percent of the national demand.

Due to the Xylella attack, regional production has dropped by more than 80 percent compared to previous years. This drastic reduction has also had major repercussions in national terms: about 45 percent of the olive oil we Italians consume today no longer comes from Puglia.

About 5,000 farmers have lost their jobs, not to mention also the thousands of farms and oil mills that are still idle today precisely because of this bacteria.

Land that used to be covered with hundreds of productive olive trees now looks like vast expanses of tree “skeletons,” whose economic value has more than halved.

Xylella has thus caused immense losses for Salento and, consequently, for Italy as well.


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