Known as the ‘Tree of Life’ to the Berbers for the many health benefits it brings, this spiny tree (argania spinosa) grows exclusively in the south-west of Morocco in the Souss Plain, where there are 21 million trees covering almost 800,000 hectares. As a rare and endangered species, the argan forest was declared an International Biospere Reserve by UNESCO in1998.
The argan tree can reach a height of between 8 and 10 metres and some have been known to live as long as 200 years.The root system extends to a considerable depth, which helps to protect against soil erosion and hold back the encroachment by the Sahara Desert.The treeears hermaphrodite flowers which appear in May or June and are greenish yellow, or sometimes white.These are followed by the frui.The fruit is an oval berry, the size and shape of a large olive, which contains a nut with one or two seeds.A tree can produce up to 8kg of fruit per year, i.e. an average of 128,000 tonnes per year for all the Moroccan argan trees.
The argan tree has been a versatile part of Berber village life and its economy for a long time.
Its strong wood( it is also called the Moroccan “Ironwood” tree) is used for construction or fuel.
Its leaves are used to feed goats.
Its seeds are used in argan oil production.
Its deep roots mean that it is an excellent barrier against the spread of the desert.
It provides shade for the fauna and flora that balance the region’s ecosystem.
Thousands of people earn their living from its cultivation,whether directly or indirectly.
The 80-million-year-old tree species is nonetheless threatened, and each year around 600 hectares of argan trees disappear. In spite of its resistance to drought ( it can survive dormant with negligible water for a dozen years), the density of trees in the argan forest in Morocco was reduced by two thirds in a short space of fifty years.
In order to be an active participant in the sustainable development in Morocco, Marogania co-workers have founded the association Marocavie to support projects that aim at:
Fighting against the spread of the desert and slowing down rural exodus
In Biougra region: Marocavie has supplied and installed a water pump to irrigate dried plots of agricultural land.
Improving the education of the children