What can we learn from trees and what information are we losing when we destroy them? That’s the question being asked by David Milarch, a third generation nurseryman who is creating a “tree archive” in order to preserve the world’s old-growth trees. But rather than focusing on saving trees from being destroyed, his Archangel Ancient Tree Archive focuses on cloning and propagating these trees so that they can continue to survive and we can continue to learn from them.
The project’s focus is to archive genetic information from old-growth trees throughout the world. Once the genetic material has been obtained, Milarch starts new trees which are then planted in places where they can be studied, such as universities. These living archives allow scientists to study these trees for generations to come.
Obtaining this genetic information, however, isn’t always easy. The best material for propagating and cloning is often at the top of the tree, and since some of these trees grow over 4-stories high, it can be dangerous work. Milarch aims to collect samples from what he calls “Champion Trees”, meaning the strongest trees that have the best chance of providing excellent offspring.
The project also encourages reforestation by planting these genetically superior offspring in the wild, which allows these trees to cross-pollinate with wild trees and produce sturdy offspring. Milarch and his team hope to preserve the secrets held by these trees for future generations to learn and benefit from.
Via Fast Co.Exist
images © the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive