The argan tree (Argania spinosa) is a native species of the sub-Saharan region of Morocco, in the southwest of the country, which grows in arid and semiarid areas. It’s the defining species of a woodland ecosystem, also known as Arganeraie, which is rich in endemic flora. It is resilient to a harsh environment under water scarcity, risk of erosion and poor soils.
This ecosystem of extraordinary beauty is not only important in terms of conservation, but also for research and socio-economic development, due to its forestry, agricultural and livestock use.
The argan tree woodlands provide forest products, fruits and fodder. The leaves and the fruits are edible and highly appreciated, as is the undergrowth, and constitute a vital fodder reserve for all herds, even in periods of drought. The trees are also used as fuelwood for cooking and heating.
The world-renowned argan oil is extracted from the seeds and has multiple applications, especially in traditional and complementary medicine and in the culinary and cosmetic industries.
The argan tree is typically a multipurpose tree that supports income generation, increases resilience and improves climate adaptation, playing a very important role in achieving the three dimensions of sustainable development - economic, social and environmental - at the local level.
This unique region, where argan trees have been cultivated for centuries combines agricultural biodiversity, resilient ecosystems and valuable cultural heritage. For that reason, it has gotten recognition and protection from various UN entities.
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated in 1988 the endemic production area as the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve. Also, all know-how concerning the argan tree was inscribed in 2014 on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Moreover, in December 2018, FAO recognized the Argan-based agro-sylvo-pastoral system within the area of Ait Souab - Ait Mansour in Morocco as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System.
And lastly, in 2021, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 10 May the International Day of Argania. The resolution, submitted by Morocco, was co-sponsored by 113 member states of the United Nations and adopted by consensus.
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- Testimonials: 2 women from Argane cooperatives, civil society, Rights holders, Start-ups