Cloning The World’s Oldest Trees To Fight Climate Change!

Sep 30, 2022by Olivia Harper - F&F

We’re now cloning trees to fight climate change? That’s right — and not just any trees, the world’s largest and oldest trees that grow up to 90 metres tall! Let’s take a look.

Cloning Oldest TreesCloning Oldest Trees

Image: Andie Kolbeck / Unsplash

A Family-Run Nonprofit Is Cloning And Planting Millions Of The World’s Greatest Trees!

David Milarch’s nonprofit Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, claims to be a solution to climate change. This family-run group in northern Michigan with only a few employees, collects clippings of some of the oldest trees in the world (including Methuselah, the 4,800-year-old bristlecone pine known as the world’s oldest tree), clones them and propagates them, with the aspiration of planting millions around the world as a method to fight climate change!

Their lab is nearly a football field long. Inside, they’ve micro-propagated and delivered 200,000 trees for planting across seven countries. How incredible is that? Outside of it, they’ve attracted global attention by scaling redwoods, sequoias, and other giants of the plant kingdom.

Tree Cutting SamplesTree Cutting Samples

Image: MyNorth

A General Sherman Tree Can Store 86 Years Worth Of Carbon!

The Ancient Tree Archive describes its mission as creating a ‘living library’ of old-growth trees. Repopulating old-growth forests can ultimately reverse climate change, as these ancient trees sequester ten times more CO2!

By cloning these ancient, enormous trees, the genetic line is continued. These trees have proven themselves able to stand many environmental changes. One famous tree, named General Sherman can store 86 years’ worth of carbon, and is 83.8 metres tall! Imagine that!

By climbing to the heights of the trees, cutting samples from new-growth branches are then added to a sterile foam cube, with a mix of hormones. To avoid monoculture and encourage diversity, the DNA of the strongest and oldest trees are mixed.

Planting Cloned Tree CuttingsPlanting Cloned Tree Cuttings

Image: Ethan Swope

Setting Records In Tree Planting History

The Ancient Tree Archive’s terrestrial efforts have set some unparalleled records! In addition to the group climbing 250-foot trees to collect tiny clippings, they managed to clone one of America’s most famous trees, the Wye Oak, which was the largest white oak tree in the U.S. until a thunderstorm knocked it down in 2002.

They also cloned the Tree of Hippocrates, a 500-year-old plane tree in Greece said to be a descendent of the tree under which Hippocrates, according to legend, once taught! The group runs a Tree School for children to educate them on tree identification, climbing, and propagation. We think these are extraordinary accomplishments and love that they’re teaching the next generation to follow in their steps!

In four years' time, The Ancient Tree Archive believes it is possible to clone five million trees from a single tiny piece of a healthy ancient tree — wow! What are your thoughts on this new repopulation method? Let us know in the comments below.

If love hearing about amazing tree-planting initiatives, head to our Eco News category for more incredible stories.

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