Arborist David Milarch, along with his organization Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, is creating living libraries of old-growth tree genetics. He is on a quest to save California’s coastal redwoods, and save the planet while he’s at it. Redwoods grow at a rate of 10 feet per year, putting them among the fastest-growing species of tree on Earth. Plants pull carbon from our atmosphere, so because the average redwood tree weighs in at roughly 1,000 tons, Milarch had the idea of preserving the trees’ genetics and planting them around the world.
“Luckily, it’s very hard to kill a redwood no matter how hard you try. When the trees lives are threatened, chopped down for example, they shoot sprouts out of their stumps. The exact genetic fingerprint of the tree can be found in those sprouts.”– David Milarch
Ten years ago, the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive began collecting basal sprouts from groves of felled redwoods. They then bring the sprouts back to Michigan to propagate them, after which they are replanted in southern Oregon. The process is known as assisted migration, and the replanting sites are chosen for their proximity to the trees’ original locations.