California's coast redwoods are the planet's tallest tree at heights of 320 feet.
A man in California is attempting to save coast redwood trees, which would contribute to saving the planet too. California’s coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) are some of the world’s oldest and largest living things and the planet’s tallest tree. Growing up to heights of more than 320 feet, their trunks can also be more than 27 feet wide and can live for over 2,000 years. Some of the arboreal giants that are still living today were also alive during the time of the Roman Empire, according to reports. Coast redwoods were spread over a range of around 2 million acres along the California coast back before the mid-19th century. Starting at Big Sur and stretching all the way into southern Oregon, people peacefully co-existed with the giant trees in the forests.
However, with the creation of the gold rush, logging also came too. Now only around 5% of the original old-growth coast redwood forest still remains along a 450-mile strip of coast. As the planet continues to warm up through climate change, the specific conditions that are required for the redwoods to thrive are also changing, meaning that their future is not currently looking positive. Whilst animals can migrate north in order to escape the warming temperature of the south, together with dramatic habitat change, this is something that trees cannot do.
Despite this, David Milarch, an arborist from Michigan, may be the savior that the forests need in order to survive into the future. In 1991, Milarch died from renal failure, before being successfully revived and springing back to life. Owing to this near death experience, he decided to take a new path in his life and chose to harvest the genetics of the coast redwoods and assist them in their own path to migration. Milarch said, “I feel tremendous sorrow that 95 percent of them were killed and we didn’t even know what they do to anchor our ability as human beings to live on this planet. We killed them. That’s the bad news. It’s my job when I walk through there [the forest] to yell out to those trees, to hold those trees, and say I’m here to do everything in my power on Earth to bring all the human beings and all the help that I can to put this back. To put back every single tree that was cut down and killed. And I’m going to do it.”
Milarch’s tree-saving method involves cloning and replanting the trees in places where they had once thrived in the past, but no longer remain today. This means that not only is Milarch increasing the current number of the trees, but he is also planting them in locations that will give them the best chance of long-term survival, as they naturally should. By saving these trees, the planet is also being saved too. Redwood trees are one of the most effective carbon sequestration tools in the world, according to Moving the Giants, who says, “Milarch takes part in a global effort to use one of nature’s most impressive achievements to re-chart a positive course for humanity.”
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