Argan Trees

In our quest for new hikes, we tend to get out of the regular paths and sometimes end up lost in some unknown locations. I always wondered what I would do if I were being chased by a wild boar! According to some friends of mine, climbing the nearest Argan tree is the first thing to consider!

Are you kidding me?! Obviously my friends have no clue how difficult it is to climb this bad-ass tree. I wonder if I would really run into these rough, thorny and twisted branches. It is not just any ordinary TREE!

Why are Argan Trees so important?

1. You will not find Argan Tree Anywhere else!

Argania forests cover an area of approximately 800,000 hectares around Essaouira and Agadir. It is thought that this tree, estimated to be millions of years old, can live up to 250 years, but would only be fully productive when it reaches 40-60 years old.

This tree is unique to Morocco. It grows only in the valley of Souss in the whole world.

In 1998, the Argan forest was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for its ecological and local economic importance.

“The cosmetic Argan moisturizes the skin and improves its elasticity because it is rich with vitamin A, E, anti-oxidants, Omega-6 fatty acids, and linoleic acid. It is also a natural remedy against hair dandruff, irritation and dryness.”

2. It produces one of the world’s most purchased beauty products

Moroccans have been using Argan oil for centuries as food as well as a beauty product. Over the last few years, it has become remarkably popular due to its use in cosmetics. However, not only the whole Argan oil extraction is a tough process, but it is also still done by hand in most cooperatives (producing half a liter of oil requires about 50 kilograms of seeds). Mechanical presses have been introduced to extract argan oil too, but this method is still new.
To produce culinary Argan oil, the kernels are roasted over low heat until they’re fragrant and then pressed to extract the oil, whereas Argan oil for cosmetic purposes is not. Here are some of its benefits:

The cosmetic Argan oil moisturizes the skin and improves its elasticity because it is rich with vitamin A, E, anti-oxidants, Omega-6 fatty acids, and linoleic acid. Thanks to these properties, Argan oil is also a natural remedy against hair dandruff, irritation and dryness.

Wait! It is not always only about our hair and skin, the culinary Argan oil can also be used as a well-balanced dietary supplement. So, don’t hesitate to add it to your salad. You would love its slightly strong flavour.

3. Argan Tree gives women wings

Have you visited any local cooperative or Argan shop? I doubt you’ll ever see a man extracting the oil. Women are possibly the only ones engaged in this hard work whether it is in cooperatives, shops or villages.
The international popularity of the oil has allowed these women to profit both economically and socially from their work. It has actually increased their financial independence. The number of Cooperatives run by women has also quickly risen up providing a stable income to a large number of women in villages.

4. More Social benefits

Argan tree has always played a significant role in the lives of the Berber people. Beyond the famous oil, it has also been providing shelter for their bees (honey road) and feeding their domestic animals.
For its high resistance to decay and insects, villagers have also used the Argan tree wood to build most of their roofs for centuries. Argan charcoal has been favoured overs anything else as it burns hotter and lasts longer. Berbers believe this charcoal gives a particular flavour to their cooking.

5. It is a survivor tree

Argan trees are well adapted to the climate in southwestern Morocco. They can remain dormant and fruitless during years of drought, but still protect the land against soil erosion and desertification. Studies have shown that they can be traced back as far as 1.5 million years ago.
Part of their survival is due to the ability of their roots to reach a depth of 30-70 meters to find water. Yet despite all these qualities, the popularity of Argan trees has also carried many serious threats.

6. Popularity has put Argan Trees under threat

Unfortunately, the number of Argan trees has dropped by half, and so did the forests density due to the high demand for charcoal and the conversion to export agriculture (tomatoes…), and let’s not forget the high increase of rural real estate near popular tourist destination like Agadir and Essaouira.
That image of “Tree-Climbing Goats”, though it appears cute and innocent, represents a big menace to Argan forests as well! The number of goats has significantly risen over time causing more damages to the remaining forests. According to several Argan researches, over browsing is a very serious risk.
Finally, and because this oil has captivated the interest of consumers across the globe, most of the oils found online or in Morocco itself are either fake or diluted. Argan oil is often cut with other oils so that it can be sold cheaper. Make sure you check before you buy anything.

Here are few hints: The cosmetic Argan oil has a nutty scent. It is not cheap, and sediment at the bottom of the bottle are actually a good sign, and finally it should be easily absorbed by your skin.

goats-hiking-girl-aourir

By Mbarka

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