Science and Tech


Instead Of Being Cut Down, Some 400-Ton Trees Are Just Transplanted

Transplanting foliage from one place to another isn't the most novel idea, but we can now move trees that weigh 800,000 pounds.
Posted at 5:42 PM, Aug 18, 2017

We cut down around 15 billion trees a year, but there are trees people will go to great lengths to keep alive. Some hold special significance for people and can be landmarks or historically famous. Yet we only recently discovered how to successfully transplant trees weighing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

To move the largest of trees, workers prune their roots to temporarily stop growth. They install steel pipes and airbags beneath the tree so it can be pushed out of the ground and towed to its new home. 

The moving process usually takes less than a day. In Boise, Idaho, a team was able to conserve an 800,000-pound tree given to the city by the "Father of National Parks" by moving it a few city blocks in about 10 hours.

It does take a bit of cash to perform transplants, however. A few years ago, The University of Michigan spent about $400,000 to move a 700,000-pound oak tree 100 yards.

But the process is pretty successful at keeping those trees alive. In the last 15 years, the University of Texas at Austin says it transplanted 46 trees with a 93 percent survival rate.