The Giant Coastal Redwood Trees are Being Reborn

The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive is cloning redwoods from giant stumps.

Apr 20, 2019

The giant coastal redwood tree was 35 feet across and towered, it is believed, as high as 400 feet making it one of the tallest living trees on earth and having lived for thousands of years one of the oldest. The giant tree met its end in the 1890's because of a bet on who could make the largest table but the remaining stump – known as the Fieldbrook stump – is living again thanks to cloning.

This tree and 130 other tree varieties that were known to be the largest and strongest of their breeds are being reborn due to the efforts of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, a nonprofit organization with the mission of reforesting the earth with the offspring of these amazing trees.

The Archive estimates that over 95 percent of these ancient giant trees are gone but the organization is working to save the genetics in living libraries around the world.

“We can rebuild old grove forests utilizing the genetics of the largest, oldest, strongest, proven-through-the-test-of-time giants,” David Milarch, an arborist and co-founder of the nonprofit Archangel Ancient Tree Archive told Lawn Starter. “They will help us turn around this scourge that we face — the threat of climate change.”

The giant redwoods, Sequoia sempervirens, are the world's tallest trees and the ones that were cloned were the tallest of the tall. Since redwoods perform carbon sequestration, the process where plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, better than any other plant and according to a study by forest researchers, these trees will do the most good in reducing carbon in the atmosphere.

Redwoods commonly grow to 200 feet and live for 500 – 800 years but the ones that were cloned were much taller and older. "These saplings have extraordinary potential to purify our air, water, and soil for generations to come," Milarch said in a press release. "We hope this 'super grove,' which has the capability to become an eternal forest, is allowed to grow unmolested by manmade or natural disasters and thus propagate forever."

The Fieldbrook tree was one of those giant redwoods. After it was cut down, the stump became a tourist attraction in Humboldt County, California and there are pictures of groups of people climbing on the massive stump. The table it was rumored to have been cut down for was never made but now the giant redwood has a chance to live again.

After the nonprofit harvest's samples from the trees, the team takes them back to their lab in Copemish, Michigan where they gently coax them to grow with a micro-propagation system that they developed. There are now thousands of cloned trees in various stages of development from cuttings to saplings that are up to six-feet tall until they are ready to be planted. Last year, the Archive planted 75 coastal redwood saplings from five different stumps into a park in San Francisco.

Milarch co-founded the nonprofit after he suffered from renal failure 25 years ago. He technically died and was revived but in his "death experience" where he followed a light, Milarch believes that angels told him that he still had work to do. The tree archive was the result. His remarkable story was published in 2012 in the book The Man Who Planted Trees: A Story of Lost Groves, the Science of Trees, and a Plan to Save the Planet,  by Jim Robbins.

Planting trees is vital for the health of our planet. That's why the Nature Conservancy is promoting the Billion Tree Planting Program as a  way to combat climate change and to restore our global forests.  With so much tree planting going on world-wide, the future looks brighter and much greener.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.

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