Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve – Wildlife Species and Argan trees

The last barrier that lies between desertification and Morocco is the Argan Forest. Even though this forest is dense and is home to many wildlife species, it is threatened by the market value of the Argan trees (Argania spinosa). The Argan trees produce oils used in cosmetics while its wood is used for various purposes such as the creation of medicines. The area the forest is situated on is often used to provide pastures for farm animals. Approximately forty environmental systems have been recognized in Morocco and these are significant to the survival of various vegetation species and the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve is one of them.

The Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve covers over 2 560 000 hectares of terrain, of which some is inhabited and therefore it incorporates urban areas, forest areas and agricultural lands. It was established in the year 1998 to protect the remaining species and to assist researchers in their reforestation efforts. At present, the two most prominent ecosystem types that are found within the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve are the sclerophyllous forests and the deserts, which fall into semi-desert and warm desert regions. As the Sahara Desert slowly eats away at the bordering territories, it is vital to conserve the forests that are already in existence to protect against the advancing desert.

The continued existence and acceptance of fishing communities and farming communities within the borders of the biosphere reserve have brought about an increase in national parks in Morocco. Most of these parks are found within the borders of much larger biosphere reserves and they contain and completely protect various areas. National parks, such as the Souss Masa National Park, are vital to the survival of the Argan tree.

Scientists and researchers from these facilities try to reach out to the communities, to educate them about the threat of desertification and the importance of the preservation of the forests. These great efforts, which are practiced at most of the biosphere reserves and national parks in Morocco, have received international attention and support. Scientists have also been tirelessly trying to establish what sort of success artificial pollination might have. Efforts by Israel have also been noted, as they have tried to introduce the Argan tree species into the Negev desert.

The Argan tree, and many of the species that are found in the forests, have a wonderful resistance to drought and are capable of adjusting to many environmental changes. With the assistance of local communities and by reducing the risk of human exploitation, the forests can be protected and many areas that are threatened by desertification may be saved.

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