People living in the argan forest are commonly known as Berbers. Rural Berber families are generally poor and agriculture constitutes the major source of their income. The argan wood is used for heating, cooking, carpentry, construction and tool making. Overgrazing by goats modifies branch growth patterns and significantly weakens the tree and also removes the much needed leaves for shade on hot sunny days. All of these factors were leading to the disappearance of the argan forest.
The sustainable development of the argan forest appeared as the only opportunity to successfully achieve its rescue and to ensure decent livelihoods for its population that is so much dependent on the forest. Traditionally, argan oil is exclusively prepared by the Berber women, they have mastered each step of the process which led to the creation of the woman cooperatives.
In the argan forest, life is very family-oriented and most women have no regular jobs. They are often illiterate and constitute the weakest and vulnerable segments of society. Thus the woman cooperatives offered the first job offer and those willing to work would get their first salary ever.
In addition to harvesting the nut and production of argan oil, the women plant 1-10 new argan trees each annually to support the local Berber population. The reforestation of the argan forest is the most advanced example of successful sustainable agriculture in Africa.