Many environmentalists are trying to save some of the world’s biggest trees by cloning them.
One such tree is known as Lady Liberty. The 89 foot tall tree stands at the end of a boardwalk located roughly 16 miles north of Orlando. In December the Archangel Tree Archive will visit the tree in order to gather some samples for cloning.
Archangel Tree Archive is a non-profit organization that focuses on storing the genetic material of notable trees, cloning the trees and finding appropriate places to plant the clones. The organization hopes that cloning the trees will allow future generations to enjoy them.
Environmentalists estimate that less than 10% of old forest trees in the United States are still standing today. Trees have been threatened by logging and housing developments for many decades.
Just three years ago, an even larger tree stood nearby Lady Liberty. The tree was called The Senator, and it stood at 165 feet tall. It was burned down three years ago, much to the sadness and outrage of the public.
However, the tragedy inspired people to protect the trees that remained standing, including Lady Liberty.
Archangel Tree Archive has previously worked in California, saving the state’s famous redwood trees. They have also cloned trees from historic locations, such as George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The group maintains a list of about 100 noteworthy trees worldwide that have yet to be cloned.
Archangel’s leader Jake Milarch says, “We go for the biggest trees, because those are the ones that have survived.” Milarch believes that genetics play a large role in the success of a tree.
However, some people believe that cloning old trees is a waste of time. Instead, they believe that conservation techniques should focus on protecting the trees that are still standing. Critics also disagree with the prospect of saving individual specimens rather than entire habitats. Some also mention the fact that environments have changed over time, and the young clone of a successful tree might not fare as well in a different environment. Indeed, luck may have a larger factor in the success of a tree than genetics.
That being said, most scientists do see value in studying cloned trees. Even at a fraction of the size of their counterparts, they still contain the exact same genetic material as the trees that they were cloned from. Many scientists are particularly excited about how the cloned trees will fare given the factor of climate change.
Meanwhile, those who appreciate Lady Liberty are just happy that the tree will be cloned. Even if something were to happen to the original tree, they would have a backup that they could still enjoy.