Stories tagged forest

Apr
22
2013

Tall order: Scientists are cloning giant redwood trees from California in an effort to reforest lost trees and combat climate change.
Tall order: Scientists are cloning giant redwood trees from California in an effort to reforest lost trees and combat climate change.Courtesy Victorgrigas
Start talking about giant cloning projects, and the conversation is going to quickly turn to Jurassic Park, the film that "what iffed" the cloning of dinosaurs. It was all for fun, if beyond hypothetical.

But giants of another kind, trees, are being cloned in an effort to help turn the balance of deteriorating conditions here on Earth. California's iconic, and incredibly tall, redwood trees are getting the cloning treatment. You can read the full details about the project here. And today, Earth Day 2013, the project is going global as clones of these redwoods are being planted in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Germany and the U.S.

Why clone just behemoth trees? The guys running the project surmise where better to find the strongest, hardiest genetic codes to withstand the coming climate pressures than in these huge redwoods, many which have lived for over 4,000 years.

The current crop of plantings come from the DNA of giant trees cut down about a century ago. Even though the bulk of the trees are just stumps today, those stumps are very much alive. They have live shoots emerging from the stumps, which the researchers can extract DNA from to serve as the basis for their cloning work.

The new plantings have a long way to go. They're only about 18 inches tall right now. The big challenge, the researchers say, is to find people and resources to nurture this little trees into viable, independent growers.

Redwoods are considered best suited to absorb massive volumes of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas primarily responsible for climate change.

What do you think? Is this a good application for cloning? Can these huge trees make a difference with climate change over the long haul? Should we be tinkering around with this kind of science?