By Erik Derr ( | First Posted: Apr 22, 2013 06:47 PM EDT

(Photo : Creative Commons)

(Photo : Creative Commons)

(Photo : Creative Commons)

California redwoods are spanning the globe in a new effort to reforest the planet and combat the negative effects of climate change.

Redwood saplings --- measuring 18 inches, or, 45 centimeters, tall --- have been sent out to Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Ireland, Canada and Germany, as well as throughout the United States, and and are expected to be planted in those locations today, Earth Day, as well as Arbor Day, marked on April 26 in the U.S.

The laboratory-produced trees are clones, genetic duplicates of three giant redwoods cut down in northern California over a century ago.

Shoots continue to emerge from the remaining tree stumps, including the so-called Fieldbrook Stump, which measures 35 feet (10.7 meters) in diameter and is estimated to be about 4,000 years old. The tree was about 40 stories high before it was cut down.

"This is a first step toward mass production," said David Milarch, co-founder of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, a non-profit group spearheading the project. "We need to reforest the planet; it's imperative. To do that, it just makes sense to use the largest, oldest, most iconic trees that ever lived."

In the 1990s, Milarch and sons Jared and Jake, who run a family-owned nursery in Copemish, Mich., began focusing their attention on the depletion of the world's forests in the 1990s.

The trio ended up canvassing the U.S. in search of trees that have lived hundreds or, better yet, thousands of years. Their thinking was that superior genes enabled the long-lived timber to outlast others in their species, though skeptics from the scientific community suggest the wooded survivors were just lucky.

Archangel organizers say they're developed several methods of producing genetic copies from cuttings, such as placing branch tips less than an inch long in baby food jars containing nutrients and hormones.

The cloning program has focused on towering sequoias and redwoods, which are considered the tree types best suited to absorb large volumes of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas implicated in much of the plant's climate changes.

"A lot of trees will be planted by a lot of groups on Arbor Day (April 26 in the United States), but 90 percent of them will die," David Milarch said, who added, "It's a feel-good thing. You can't plant trees and walk away and expect them to take care of themselves."

That, said Jared Milarch, Archangel's executive director, is the project's biggest challenge: finding people to nurture the trees and money to continue the project, as well as sites to sink the trees to begin with.

"A lot of trees will be planted by a lot of groups on Arbor Day, but ninety percent of them will die," David Milarch said. "It's a feel-good thing. You can't plant trees and walk away and expect them to take care of themselves."

If Archangel can "get enough of these trees out there, we'll make a difference," Jared Milarch said.

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