In the plant kingdom, it is rare that a tree could challenge the longevity of the mighty redwood. The tall poplars are known to live for hundreds of years and it is actually not unusual to hear of ones that live over a millennium. Unfortunately, what years of growth and resisting weathering for just as long could easily be diminished by the acts of man. Due to the obvious sturdiness and strength of the redwood, builders have long preferred its wood for construction work. Aside from being durable, it has also been known to stand up well against anything that nature could throw at it especially out in the wild.
Quite expectedly, the process of reproduction does not come easy for the redwood. Since the trees have a long lifespan, their reproduction is relatively slow so much so that one human generation could actually miss out in the process. Coupled with the fact that the trees are being harvested for timber, it sets up for a very detrimental and dangerous situation. If the demand catches up with the supply, the redwood could in fact be added to the growing list of extinct plant species. Ironically, despite it’s ability to adapt and superb durability, it stands to lose out on the evolutionary game because it was simply too good.
Good thing the redwood has a lot of good people on its side. Aside from the nature lovers that champion the tree for its immense stature and awesome longevity, there are also a lot of other professionals such as arborists who are willing to go out on a limb to ensure the species’ survival. Just how far? A team assembled by Michigan-born arborist David Milarch scaled two hundred foot-tall redwoods just to get samples to further elucidate the reproductive processes of the tree. According to Milarch, the cutting edge in genetic technology could definitely help in ensuring the long term survival of the redwood.
Redwoods clone themselves and randomly mate with nearby trees by releasing their sex cells into the air. Thus, the mighty redwoods that we see now could be the perfect facsimile of those trees that stood mightily during the last throes of the Ice Age.
If everything works out, Milarch could definitely be on to something. More and more species could be in danger and many people like Milarch will have to step up to the plate to make sure that every species that need to be protected will have its fair chance at survival.