Located in the southwest of Morocco, the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve is a large intra-montane plain home to the Argan tree (Argania spinosa), a species endemic to the reserve in need of conservation. These trees constitute a major economic resource for local inhabitants as the principal source of Argan oil, which has multiple uses in cooking, medicines and cosmetics. The trees are also used as fuelwood for cooking and heating.
To ensure the sustainable development of this biosphere reserve and to help meet the energy needs of the local community, UNESCO and the Moroccan National Agency for the Development of Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency (ADEREE) organized a seminar, held in Marrakech, Morocco (March 2015) to discuss these issues.
Enabling access to renewable energy sources is of major importance for UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. Through the RENFORUS Initiative - Renewable Energy Futures for UNESCO Sites - UNESCO promotes the use of Biosphere Reserves as field observatories on the sustainable use of renewable energy sources. It combines nature conservation objectives with sustainable development goals based on local community and private sector participation.
The underlying aim in the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve is to help ensure the protection and sustainable use of Argan trees in the biosphere reserve through the provision of renewable energy applications benefitting local communities living in the biosphere reserves and the region at large.
The Seminar, which brought together key national institutions and stakeholders, scientists, as well as international experts, highlighted present management and socio-economic challenges facing the Argan Forest and people who live there and possible ways and means that renewable energy could be part of the solution. Building on these discussions, ADEREE together with the the National Agency for the Development of Oasis Areas and the Argan Forest (l'Agence nationale pour le développement des zones oasiennes et de l'arganier - ANDZOA), the MAB National Committee of Morocco, the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve and supported by the UNESCO Rabat Office and UNESCO Paris, will develop an renewable energy action plan for the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve, in the overall framework of Morocco’s renewably energy strategy.