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The cultural significance of thuya (tetraclinis articulata) : An ethnographic study of the thuya woodworking craft and its implications for sustainable management in Southern Morocco

Kaleta, Rachel (2008) The cultural significance of thuya (tetraclinis articulata) : An ethnographic study of the thuya woodworking craft and its implications for sustainable management in Southern Morocco. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94452) (KAR id:94452)


This thesis concerns the socio-cultural importance of the thuya tree (Tetraclinis articulata) in southern Morocco, and issues relating to its sustainable management. It focuses on the thuya woodworking craft in the town of Essaouira. Thuya is a multiuse species, with a long history of traditional utilisation, however, the thuya craft is a recently invented tradition that has been strongly influenced by outside forces. Despite this, it has been locally appropriated as an integral part of the identity of Essaouira.

Although artisans are reliant on thuya for their livelihoods, and hold a strong repertoire of knowledge regarding its use, thuya holds a primarily economic value for them. Artisans are embedded in a complex web of stakeholders, and through this are disconnected from the natural resource. Consequently, they have little or no influence over its management. Also, the instantiation of knowledge through their practice of the craft is restricted by a range of socio-cultural, economic, and political factors limiting their ability to ameliorate damaging aspects of their craft.

Thuya harvesters are also dependant upon thuya for a variety of household needs, and have an extensive understanding of its sustainable management. However, they have a utilitarian perception of thuya (Tetraclinis articulata), which they consider a Tree to use’, as opposed to argan (Argania spinosa) which they consider as a Tree of life’. Sustainable management of thuya is therefore dependant upon an incentive for the harvesters rather than sanctions for its artisans.

Sustainability models were found to be inadequate to explain the complexity of the thuya trade. Artisans, forest dwellers and thuya forests have many resilient features, and in order to effectively manage thuya populations and the thuya craft, artisan and forest dweller knowledge and practices must be incorporated into adaptive management strategies.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94452
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Biosciences
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2023 10:35 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2023 10:36 UTC
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