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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Earth Day 2013: Bring out the clones...

Humboldt State University/Public Domain

Earth Day 2013: Bring out the clones

Here's a catch 22 for you: Let's say that some trees have great genes that allow them to live for millennia and grow to be almost as big as skyscrapers, but that because they are so big, they are ideal targets for lumberjacks so they almost all get cut down (a kind of inverse natural selection -- destruction of the fittest, so to speak). The folks at the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive think this is a tragedy, and they want to try to undo the damage as much as possible by, first, creating a genetic library of as many tree "success stories" as possible (it's sometimes possible to find viable shoots coming out of the stumps of trees that have been cut down long ago!), and then cloning them to repopulate forests around the world with these proven super-trees.

Public domain/Public Domain
According to its website, the mission of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive is to:
-Propagate the world’s most important old growth trees before they are gone.
-Archive the genetics of ancient trees in living libraries around the world for the future.
-Reforest the Earth with the offspring of these trees to provide the myriad of beneficial ecosystem services essential for all life forms to thrive including releasing oxygen, sequestering carbon dioxide, providing beneficial aerosols and medicines, and to fight global warming.

Today, on Earth Day 2013, the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive group is taking an important step in implementing its mission. It will begin planting redwood clones on nine locations on Earth: Germany, Ireland, Wales, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, and in United States – California & Oregon.
Our changing climate had to be taken into account to decide where to plant them:
Locating these trees in multiple locations worldwide will help to ensure their chance of long-term survival in the face of climate change. Declining rainfall and snowpack, and higher temperatures are putting these trees under great stress in their native range. The worldwide locations were chosen as surrogates for the ideal type of climate projected for the future to give these trees a greater chance for long-term survival. This practice is known as assisted migration, which allows with human intervention, a species to relocate to more favorable location in the face of our rapidly changing climate.
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