Cloning giant redwoods could help combat climate change
This article discusses the efforts of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive to clone redwoods. This organization advocates reforestation as a solution to climate change. Many experts are saying that redwoods sequester more carbon than other forests.
By Mary Beth Toole and Anne Thompson
The Brotherhood Tree, a massive redwood in Klamath, California, is host to a complex wildlife habitat and its canopy is full of surprises for those who venture aloft. Bats flutter out into the faces of climbers and hundreds of birds circle territorially above.
For Jake Milarch, who oversees tree propagation at the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, it’s the perfect place to clip samples of the tree, small enough to fit into the palm of his hand. “There’s different hormones at the top of these trees,” he says. “What we hope to get when we propagate or clone a champion tree is the exact genetics of that tree. It’s proven itself over time, that it can deal with adverse conditions.”
He’ll take these plant samples back to their Michigan warehouse to clone and grow them.
Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, an organization that advocates reforestation as a solution to global warming, is the brainchild of Jake’s father David, a third-generation tree farmer. A rebel for most of his life, David is on a mission to save the world by planting trees.
Archangel clones champion trees, the biggest and tallest of their species, to preserve their genetics and to combat climate change. On this expedition, the team is cloning The Brotherhood Tree, a tree they estimate to be 1000 years old, starting its life sometime in the Middle Ages.
The Milarchs plan to use these clones to supplement and strengthen depleted redwood forests and even migrate them as climate change begins to affect the trees in their natural habitats. They’ve already planted coast redwoods in the Presidio in San Francisco and have plans for these clones to be planted all over the world.
New research published this month in Science Magazine seems to validate the mission of Archangel, suggesting that planting trees could be an effective strategy to help stem climate change. The study recommends planting nearly a billion new hectares of canopy cover around the globe to absorb massive amounts of climate change-fueling carbon — nearly 205 gigatons.
According to a recent study from Humboldt State University and the University of Washington, redwoods sequester more carbon than other forests. Even more so, an old-growth redwood forest supports more biodiversity, sequesters more carbon and has more regenerative properties than younger forests.
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