‘The last curtain in front of the desert’
Once Argan trees covered the entire region of North Africa, but due to overgrazing and deforestation their numbers rapidly declined.
For a while, the value of the trees went unnoticed — until the oil industry boomed — bringing more than $6.5 million per year into Morocco’s economy.
Professor Zoubida Charrouf at Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco, said the trees — which are under the protection of UNESCO and in a ‘biosphere zone’ — are incredibly important, not just economically but environmentally.
“They say they’re the last curtain in front the desert,” she said.
The trees have deep roots which help provide soil stabilization by absorbing water and protect the local environment from desertification.
Director of the Global Diversity Foundation, Gary Martin, said Argan trees are one of the very few trees in the world that “anchor the ecosystem.”
“If you remove the Argan tree from the biosphere reserve you’d have a major impact on the ecosystem.”