Scientists Explore Redwood Cloning Techniques

“The giant redwoods were no match for man,” noted NBC Nightly News reporter Kristen Dahlgren earlier this month. Though some living specimens date back more than 2,000 years, fewer than 5 percent of the original redwoods are still standing after centuries of unsustainable logging practices.

Today, some dedicated environmental scientists believe that cloning redwoods and restoring their native populations is not only possible, but quite easy and cost-effective. Furthermore, the oxygen output from the additional trees could aid efforts to curb global warming.

Archangel Ancient Tree Archive (AATA), an environmental non-profit organization based in Michigan, “defied the experts” earlier this year when its team of skilled botanists successfully cloned a redwood using genetic material found in redwood saplings, which commonly sprout out of long-dead redwood stumps. Other samples have been collected by climbers who scale the trees and clip branches from their tops (as high as 400 feet above the ground). In the lab, technicians clip the plant specimens and mix them with a concoction of growth hormones. After an incubation period of a few weeks, the saplings are planted in the ground.

David Milarch, the organization’s founder, has plans to plant redwood stands along the Pacific coast as far north as Oregon. The trees may take hundreds of years to grow to the same height as their parents. Milarch told Dahlgren that he also hopes to clone sequoia trees in the future. For more information about the project, please visit the official AATA website.