Endangered Argan Tree

Argan oil Morocco. The only corner of the world where Argan trees grow and, hence, the sole place where Argan oil is produced. The growing Argan forest was under threat some decades ago because the trees were felled to be used as firewood. Argan trees were disappearing in the south-western corner of the Sahara Desert, leading to the area’s desertification. This in turn resulted in changes in the local ecosystem and contributed to climate change.

It took one devoted woman to turn over the threatening situation that could have been the end of all Argan. This woman is Zoubida Charrouf. She works as a researcher and Chemistry professor at the Mohammed V University of Rabat and has researched with her team the benefits of Argan oil in external and nutritional use. The results speak for themselves: Argan oil is, unarguably, one of the world’s most nutritious oils. Charrouf and her research group published their findings and soon there was hustle and bustle to be seen amongst Morocco’s leaders. In 1999, the Argan forest region was declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve and a protection program was soon started. The felling of Argan trees was prohibited and a supervised and structured replanting embarked. At about the same time, cooperative feminine societies regulated by the state were established in various parts of Morocco. The ambition of these Fair-Trade cooperatives is to protect the Argan forests while supporting the area’s economy by sustainably producing precious Argan oil.