Plants growing in this Gobi region provide a valuable source of food and shelter to a wide variety of animal life. Their roots stabilize the edges of streams and dead plants matter decomposes releasing nutrients into the soil and water that feeds small creatures. Saxaul trees are hardly survivor, growing very slowly. They have deep, extensive root systems to reach any available moisture in the soil. In the Gobi, they form small open forests, providing a valuable shelter from the elements for birds, mammals, reptiles as well as herder’s livestock. Camels browse on the nutritious leaves and local people collect the dead-wood for both heating and cooking. Slightly succulent-leafed Nitraria bushes grow upward against strong winds- as does the Saxaul.