The endemic argan tree (Argania spinosa
) populations in South Morocco are highly degraded due to their use as a biomass resource in dry years and illegal firewood extraction. The intensification and expansion of agricultural land lead to a retreat of the wooded area, while the remaining argan open woodlands are often overgrazed. Thus, canopy-covered areas decrease while areas without vegetation cover between the argan trees increase. In total, 36 rainfall simulation experiments as well as 60 infiltration measurements were conducted to investigate the potential difference between tree-covered areas and bare intertree areas. In addition, 60 soil samples were taken under the trees and in the intertree areas parallel to the contour lines. Significant differences using a t
-test were found between tree and intertree areas for the studied parameters Ksat
, pH, electric conductivity, percolation stability, total C-content, total N-content, K-content, Na-content, and Mg-content. Surface runoff and soil losses were not as conclusive but showed similar trends. The results showed that argan trees influence the soil underneath significantly, while the soil in intertree areas is less protected and more degraded. It is therefore reasonable to assume further degradation of the soil when intertree areas extend further due to lack of rejuvenation of argan trees.
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