The Use of the Iñupiaq Technique of Tundra Sodding to Rehabilitate Wetlands in Northern Alaska + Supplementary Appendix Tables (See Article Tools)


  • Timothy C. Cater
  • Charles Hopson
  • Bill Streever



Iñupiat, ivruq, sod, turf, wetlands, North Slope, Alaska, Prudhoe Bay oil field, land rehabilitation, revegetation, restoration


Tundra sodding, a new technique available to rehabilitate disturbed wetlands in the Arctic, is based on Iñupiaq traditional knowledge. C. Hopson, an Iñupiaq elder from Barrow and author of this paper, guided the development and field application of this new technique by providing traditional knowledge he learned as a youth from his elders. Tundra sodding has several advantages over other land rehabilitation techniques, the most important being that it can establish a mature plant community of indigenous species in a single growing season. In all sampling years, the plant communities at sodded sites were dominated by two rhizomatous graminoids, Eriophorum angustifolium and Carex aquatilis. These sedges also were dominant in all years in reference tundra. Also common to the plant communities in both reference tundra and sodded sites were 18 other vascular species (grasses, evergreen and deciduous shrubs, and forbs). Results from two to five growing seasons indicate that tundra sod can reduce the overall subsidence due to thawing of shallow permafrost. We harvested sod on three occasions from an area slated for gravel mining. In the summers of 2007 and 2008, we transplanted 334 m2 of tundra sod to portions of three sites to test the feasibility of the method. In summer 2010, we used the experience gained from that work to rehabilitate an entire site (1114 m2). This tundra sodding technique is labor intensive and costly compared to other rehabilitation techniques, but it offers advantages that justify its use when rapid rehabilitation of a disturbed site is needed.


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