Ancient trees that could save the world

Could cloning be the answer? As we discover the incredible benefits of the world’s oldest
trees, we are losing them to climate change. But an exciting new project offers hope.

Firefighters watched in horror as the giant tree burned. The Senator, a tree in Florida, was over 3,500 years old and 165 feet tall. But it was no match for the forest fire.

Ancient trees are a key part of the environment. They store huge amounts of carbon.

But they are under threat from climate change. Droughts mean they do not have enough water. Forest fires are common. Insects that damage trees used to be killed in cold winters. But now they survive.

Several years ago, 129 million trees died in California. Now, David Milarch and his son Jared are trying to make sure there will always be giant trees. They are doing this by making copies, or clones, of ancient trees.

They cut small branches from big trees. Then they use the branches to grow new trees. “A 2,000-year-old tree knows a thing or two about survival,” says David Milarch.

Forests are an important habitat for many animals. In Britain, thousands of miles from California, scientists think lost areas of rainforest could be brought back across one fifth of the country.

Today, only 1% of Britain is covered by rainforest. But these areas are home to dozens of different species, from mosses to birds and mammals.