This stubborn shrub is helping to keep Arctic river banks intact as permafrost thaws


Leon Andrew describes Arctic willow as a nuisance.

People who have cabins near the Mackenzie River in the N.W.T.’s Sahtu region regularly have to clear the shrub away, the elder said. But if you knock it down to the ground, it’ll have grown up to your knees again by the following summer. 

“The moose, they enjoy that,” said Andrew, who lives in Norman Wells and is on a steering committee for the Mackenzie River Basin Board. “But for human beings, it’s just making travelling in the bush on the Dene trails and stuff … it’s getting harder for a person to get from point A to point B.” 

In a study published last week in

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