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Venerable trees' best days have just begun

China Daily | Updated: 2021-02-01 09:43
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A 2,500-year-old olive tree in Vouves village of Hania, Greece. LIU YONGQIU/XINHUA

ATHENS-A four-centuries-old olive tree on the outskirts of the port city of Patras in western Greece was facing the axe because it was on the path of a major railway construction project led by Ergose, a subsidiary of the Hellenic Railways Organization.

Uprooting an olive tree, which for Greeks has been a symbol of peace, hope, victory and abundance since antiquity, would not go down well with the public.

Ergose, working with municipal authorities, universities and other public institutions, has found a solution. It gave new life to the old codger.

Since 2014 the company has been transferring olive trees from areas expropriated for railway projects to other sites, sometimes hundreds of kilometers away.

It has saved more than 500 olive trees. A year ago 60 olive trees were transplanted in the municipalities of Marathon and Rafina in eastern Attica, along the Marathon race route, to restore the landscape.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, the company continues to salvage trees. The olive tree from Patras was moved to a new location on Jan 16, with four younger trees a few days later.

Stefanos Gabriel Vlachos, the mayor of Petroupoli, a western suburb of Athens, considers the rescue operation, especially during such difficult times, a great gift for the city's residents.

"We are proud that this olive tree, which is 400-500 years old, is now on our soil in Petroupoli. The locals have welcomed with enthusiasm our initiative, because there is no person in Greece whose life is not linked to the olive tree and its fruits," he said.

As Greece and China celebrate in 2021 the Year of Culture and Tourism, the mayor has sent a message of friendship to the Chinese people. "The cultures of the two peoples-Greek and Chinese-are related, because we represent ancient civilizations. The roots of all other cultures derive from these two civilizations," he said.


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