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Earth Day: Group's Cloned Redwood Trees Planted Globally [VIDEO]

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Apr 22, 2013 02:02 PM EDT
Corey Bigelow selects a “daughter” tree for shipping
Corey Bigelow selects a “daughter” tree for shipping (Photo : Archangel Ancient Tree Archive)

A Michigan-based nonprofit is celebrating Earth Day by distributing genetically cloned redwood trees to be planted in seven countries around the world in an effort to ensure the trees' survival.

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Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, the group spearheading the project, reports that genetic clones of ancient coastal redwoods will be planted on Earth Day (April 22) in Germany, Ireland, Wales, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia and in the states of California and Oregon.

The group genetically duplicated three coastal redwood trees which were cut down more than a century ago. One of the fallen giants, now known as Fieldbrook Stump, still grows shoots out of its 35-foot base. The stump is thought to be about 4,000 years old and was 40 stories high before it was felled, the Associated Press reports.

To clone the trees, the group collected living material from the trees and stumps on the west coast and returned to their Michigan laboratory to generate roots grow exact genetic duplicates of the trees. A generation of clones based off the "mother" trees is growing in the group's lab.

According to the Archangel group, though there are just a few of the cloned trees, the environmental potential of them is as big as the giant trees will grow.

"These valuable "daughter" trees represent the best candidates to not only carry on the legacy of the mother trees, but will capture and store carbon from our atmosphere to mitigate the effects of climate change. These trees can grow 10 feet per year, and when mature, will contain some 400 tons of carbon per tree," the group says on its website.

A coastal redwood may produce up to 100,000 seeds a year, but the germination rate is very low. To ensure the trees' survival, Archangel grows the clone saplings in their facilities and ships them to locations where the trees will thrive with explicit instructions to care for the trees and ensure growth.

The biggest challenge for the group is finding suitable locations to plant the trees, entrusting people to care for them and get money to continue to project, said Jared Milarch, the group's executive director, according to the AP. The group is funded through member donations and doesn't charge for its clones.

"If we get enough of these trees out there, we'll make a difference," he said.

Ancient Future: The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive Story from rivetentertainment on Vimeo.

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