The non-profit group Archangel Ancient Tree Archive has partnered with a cloning laboratory to save a 2,000-year-old tree from its natural death.
According to members of the organization, they plan to clone 100 samples of this tree which will then be planted in different parts of the U.S., The Wall Street Hedge reported.
The tree, dubbed as Lady Liberty can be found inside Longwood, Florida's Big Tree Park. It towers other trees surrounding it with its height of 89 feet and a circumference of 32 feet.
The group noted that saving Lady Liberty is an important project because it is known as the oldest cypress tree in the world. Experts predict that due to natural deterioration, the tree will die within the next five years. In 2012, Lady Liberty's larger and older sibling, called the Senator burned down in Big Tree Park, according to Ubergizmo.
"We believe that this tree is something special," Jake Milarch of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive said in a statement. "Throughout time, it has seen droughts and disease, and over time it has acquired or developed the DNA to withstand those things."
As part of the conservation effort, a group of climbers scaled Lady Liberty on December 28 to retrieve twig samples from the upper portion of the tree. These were then sent to a horticulture expert in the University of Florida to identify which samples can be used for the cloning process. Once the best twigs were selected, they were sent to a cloning facility in Michigan.
The non-profit group hopes to create 100 genetic copies of Lady Liberty. 20 of these will be planted in Florida while the remaining 80 will be distributed to different parts of the country as part of a nationwide reforestation effort.
Cloning an ancient tree may sound odd but this is actually not the first that such a project was carried out. Before the death of the 3,500-year-old The Senator, samples were taken from the tree for cloning. The tissues taken from the tree were then integrated in the roots of another cypress tree. Environmentalists are hoping that the new tree, dubbed as Phoenix, will grow as big and as long as The Senator did.
But aside from The Senator and Lady Liberty, the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive maintains a library filled with genetic samples taken from other trees which can be used for other reforestation projects and future research, Nature World News has learned.