secular argan tree

The Argan Forest, a natural barrier against desertification

A species endemic to Morocco, the argan tree represents the solution to a major ecological concern. Bordering the desert in the south west of the country, the argan forest helps to prevent desertification. It constitutes the ultimate natural barrier against the encroaching desert.

The tree’s roots can reach a depth of 30 meters which allows it to draw water from the fresh ground water preserves and to benefit from low precipitation. The argan tree’s root system ensures a balanced ecosystem, fights against desertification and slows wind and heavy rain erosion. Shaded and maintained soils around Argan trees have an outstanding fertility permitting the settlement of flora and wildlife in an otherwise deserted environment.

 

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A survival artist under extreme climate conditions

Not only can the argan tree withstand severe drought, it resists as well the chergui, a hot and dry wind which forms in the Sahara and travels down from the Atlas Mountains. This powerful wind raises the temperature to around 50°C and dries out all vegetation in its path. When hit by the chergui, the argan tree strips itself from its leaves and goes into survival mode.

 

The Argan Tree, useful yet endangered

Called by Berbers “the tree of the thousand virtues” it is indeed completely used, from roots to leave, latter provide food for livestock. The argan tree’s timber serves as building material. Wood and fruit nut-shells are also used as a source of fuel for fireplaces.

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The Argan forest has been overexploited until the mid-nineties, when Moroccan Ministries and international NGOs drew the local population's attention to the possibility of taking advantage of the Argan oil, extracted out from the Argan nuts.

 

Argan Oil, from the Moroccan Desert to Hollywood

The tree’s kernels are used to produce an extra-virgin oil with amazing properties. Several trees are necessary to yield as little as one liter of argan oil. The extracted oil is known for its multiple benefits. It feeds, nourishes, maintains, treats and heals local populations.

Though unknown outside of its local production area of North Africa until the 1990s, it is today the subject of much attention.

Dubbed “liquid gold” Argan oil is a day and night skin care, a soothing after-shave, and even tastes good drizzled on a salad. It’s everywhere, from Oscar-night celebrity gift bags to top-hairdressers in Paris and Tokyo. It strengthens and makes skin and hair soft without being greasy. It’a easy to use and all natural, hand made and fair traded.

 

The Argan Forest: World Biosphere AND Cultural Heritage

The Argan Forest is classified UNESCO Biosphere (1999) and Cultural Heritage of Humanity (2014). Furthermore, Argan Oil is the only African product to have received the European Union's label of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) in order to preserve traditional knowledge and collective rights for the members of womens' cooperatives. This label protects Argan oil against imitations and guaranties their quality and authenticity.

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The argan tree’s ecosystem therefore provides work as well as nutrition for both the livestock and the local population of south-west Morocco. As a source of local economic development, it has helped counter the rural migration and pauperization of the population by allowing it to continue living in a desert region with limited resources all while preserving and promoting local culture.