Ancient Redwoods Cloned “Back from the Dead” to Help Fight Climate Change

Tree surgeons (Arborists) have successfully cloned, grown, and planted coast redwoods as a measure to help fight climate change and reverse the effects of deforestation.

Ancient Redwoods Cloned "Back from the Dead" to Help Fight Climate Change
Photo: USDA

Arborists lead by the nonprofit Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, were able to successfully clone coast redwoods from stumps left after being cut down during the 1900s. The cloned samples were grown into saplings, 75 of which were planted at San Francisco’s Presidio national park last December 2018.

Coast redwoods have the potential to capture up to 250 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, as compared to just 1 ton by an average tree over the trees’ lifetime. They also grow tall quickly at a rate of about 3 meters (10 feet) per year.

These trees are native to the central and northern California coast areas. Typically, they grow to a height of 91 to 107 meters (300 to 350 feet) and a diameter ranging from 3.6 to 6 meters (12 to 20 feet). Some are even known to be up to 3,000 years old.

Redwoods are native to the central and northern California coast areas. Typically, they grow to a height of 91 to 107 meters (300 to 350 feet) and a diameter ranging from 3.6 to 6 meters (12 to 20 feet). Some are even known to be up to 3,000 years old.
Photo: Keystone View Co. / US Library of Congress

The redwood stumps scattered across Oregon to Northern California in the US were initially assumed to be dead and impossible to clone. However, David Milarch (one of the nonprofit’s co-founders) and his son, Jake, realized that some of the stumps were producing stump sprouts.

David and Jake collected DNA samples from five coast redwoods stumps, which are remnants of trees that are larger than any tree existing today. They then micropropagated the samples and subjected them to reproduction hormones and processes. Viable clones were eventually grown into individual saplings ready for planting. The whole process takes about 2.5 years to complete.

David said that, “these saplings have extraordinary potential to purify our air, water, and soil for generations to come.” He also believes that “these trees have the capacity to fight climate change and revitalize forests and our ecology in a way we haven’t seen before.”

The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive is a nonprofit organization which aims to propagate important old trees, reforest the Earth with ancient trees to fight climate change, and archive the genetics of the ancient trees in living libraries all around the world.

The nonprofit has already planted hundreds of these saplings in England and Oregon, and intend to plant more in nine other countries.

You can watch David discussing his advocacy in the video below.

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John is a mechanical and environmental engineer who is fascinated with current and future tech. To this day, he still can't get over how amazing touchscreens and airplanes are.