The tree migration is the brainchild of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, an American nonprofit in Copemish, MI dedicated to collecting and preserving the genetics of ancient trees in “living archives” while also working to “propagate the world’s most important old growth trees before they are gone.” The organization has generated much interest in its work with California’s coastal redwoods.
It cloned saplings from five massive, ancient tree stumps in Northern California—“champion” trees that had been thousands of years old when they were cut down. In December, a new “super grove” of the saplings was planted in December in the Presidio, part of San Francisco’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area. But in the longterm view, Archangel is eyeing B.C. for the future of these forest giants, which can grow hundreds of feet tall and more than thirty feet in diameter.
“There’s an avid interest in our work in Canada,” says Archangel co-founder David Milarch. Archangel is evaluating “four to five planting sites that people have requested” on Vancouver Island and coastal B.C. Milarch sees B.C. as the future for giant redwoods because climate change has moved their habitat northward. “The key to their survival is assisted migration. It’s too damned hot and dry in California. Ninety-five percent of the old growth trees have been cut down, and the five percent that are left are spread out and exposed in hot, dry patches. Climate change means we need to move them where there’s fog, cool temperatures, basically what they’ve been used to for thousands of years.”
While Archangel has heard from people who want to buy individual seedlings, he stresses: “We’re not looking at shipping them one at a time. We’re looking for ideal grove planting areas where we know they won’t be cut, for thousands of years.” B.C. looks like the right place, and as the climate changes, B.C. may need them. “Douglas firs are starting to attract lethal diseases in Oregon,” he says, noting that they’re also a dominant and vulnerable species in B.C. “Redwoods are outstanding. They withstand disease and fire.” And they bring with them and support other species, including pollinators.
If you want to know more about Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, visit their website.