A nonprofit group plans to reforest the planet with clones of the most ancient and iconic trees.
David Milarch, along with his sons Jared and Jake, have been crisscrossing the US in search of “champion” trees, which have survived and thrived for hundreds and even thousands of years, since they first became concerned with the condition of the world’s forests in the early 1990s. The trio, who own a nursery in the village of Copemish, Michigan, founded the nonprofit group Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, whose goal is to reforest the planet with clones from the world’s biggest and oldest trees. David Milarch told the Associated Press, “This is a first step toward mass production. We need to reforest the planet; it’s imperative. To do that, it just makes sense to use the largest, oldest, most iconic trees that ever lived.”
There are different opinions in the scientific community as to whether it is “superior genes” or just pure luck that has allowed certain trees to survive for millennia, but Archangel is “out to prove the doubters wrong.” They have developed several different methods of cloning from cuttings, and the specimens are cared for in labs until they are deemed large enough to survive transportation and planting. They have been focusing on ancient sequoias and redwoods in recent years because research has shown both of these species to be “best suited to absorb massive volumes of carbon dioxide.” Jared Milarch, the Executive Director of Archangel, said, “If we get enough of these trees out there, we’ll make a difference.” The group currently has an inventory of several thousand clones that were generated from clippings taken from over 70 redwoods and sequoias over the last 20 years.
For Earth Day 2013, MSNNow.com reports that the group is planting over two dozen clones at nine locations in seven different countries—Germany, Ireland, Wales, England, New Zealand, Australia and the United States (California and Oregon)—to ensure the trees’ long-term survival in the face of climate change.
The challenge now, according to Jared, is to find places to plan the trees, “people to nurture them and money to continue the project.” Archangel is funded through donations only, and does not charge for the clones. However, recipients of the clones do have to pledge to care for the trees properly.