Group Plants Redwood Clones for Earth Day 2013

Redwoods are known for their giant size, longevity, and ability to absorb massive amounts of CO2.
Image: Derek Bruff / Flickr CC

Over a century ago, three Redwood giants in California were cut down. The trees, which are believed to have been around 40 stories high and 4,000 years old, still have shoots coming out of their stumps. From those shoots, scientists were able to clone the genetic makeup of the giant trees and grow 18-inch clones in a laboratory.

The trees were finally planted on Earth Day 2013 (April 22nd, 2013), two dozen of them taking root in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Ireland and Germany. The project was started over twenty years ago by David Milarch, who co-founded the nonprofit group Archangel Ancient Tree Archive.

The group’s mission, simply put, is to propagate the world’s “most important old growth trees,” archive their genetics in a living library for future generations, and reforest the earth using those genetics. Redwoods are among the world’s most resilient trees and can absorb large quantities of carbon dioxide—which would help immensely in the fight against global warming.

The work Archangel Ancient Tree Archive is doing is not as simple as it may seem, though, and their work is ongoing. David Milarch’s son Jared, who is also involved with the project, puts it succinctly: “A lot of trees get planted each Earth Day. They are living things that require care. Planting trees is just one aspect of what we do. We are also creating a living archive of trees, redwoods and sequoias, but also some 70 additional species, among them elms, oak, maples and cottonwoods.”


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