Blame it on Dolly--any mention of cloning in polite company is sure to raise eyebrows and set tongues wagging. Though cloning represents years of research and a fascinating insight into how genetic manipulation improves the human experience, its use has been largely limited to laboratory research. Human cloning certainly remains a vague figure in the theoretical horizon due to the serious ethical and legal questions involved.
However, the most recent use of cloning technology is a commendable attempt to bolster the dwindling number of trees in New York City, where industrialization and the modern way of living has substituted metal and concrete for much of the area's natural landscape. New Yorkers are currently in the process of cloning some of the area's oldest trees for replanting throughout the city. These trees were chosen not only for their historical value, but for practical reasons as well; many of the majestic candidates have been around for over a century, and are therefore testaments not only to the passage of time but to their inherent hardiness and resistance to disease and modern-day pollution.
While the use of cloning technology in this instance has some real benefits, it remains a risk given doubts as to whether the cloned trees can mimic the longevity of their predecessors. Any amateur gardener would agree that plants flourish depending on a complex variety of environmental factors--things which have yet to be simulated by technology outside laboratory conditions. As with all things, technology should be used to supplement other efforts to restore a semblance of balance to nature, especially in areas outside of cities where the growth and health of trees are more feasible and easily monitored.