Category Archives: Cypress Mulch Fact Sheet

Footnotes

  1. Kohl, Dr. Barry and Shaffer, Dr. Gary. “Mulching Our Defenses- Cypress mulch and our coast”. Presentation to Sierra Club New Orleans Group. United Methodist Church, New Orleans. 14 January 2007.
  2. Wold, Amy. “Researchers: Forests better at weakening hurricane surge”. The Baton Rouge Advocate. 28 April 2007. http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/7233386.html
  3. Whitt, Toni. “Environmentalists say cypress belongs in swamps, not gardens.” Sarasota Herald Tribune. 28 April 2007. http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070428/NEWS/704280458/-1/xml
  4. Coastal Wetland Forest Conservation and Use Science Working Group. Conservation, Protection and Utilization of Louisiana’s Coastal Wetland Forests. 03 April 2005. http://www.coastalforestswg.lsu.edu/
  5. Coastal Wetland Forest Conservation and Use Science Working Group. Conservation, Protection and Utilization of Louisiana’s Coastal Wetland Forests. 03 April 2005. http://www.coastalforestswg.lsu.edu/
  6. Brown, Matt. “Losing cypress”, The Times-Picayune, 15 October 2006.
  7. US Global Change Program, “US National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change, Regional Paper: The Southeast”, Updated 12 October 2003. http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/nacc/education/southeast/se-edu-4.htm
  8. Find the FIA website disclaimer.
  9. Jacobs, David. “Logging off”, Greater Baton Rouge Business Report. 10 Sept 2007. http://www.businessreport.com/news/2007/sep/10/logging/
  10. Coastal Wetland Forest Conservation and Use Science Working Group. Conservation, Protection and Utilization of Louisiana’s Coastal Wetland Forests. 03 April 2005. http://www.coastalforestswg.lsu.edu/
  11. United States Geological Survey. “Salt Tolerance of Southern Baldcypress”, USGS FS 094-97, National Wetlands Research Center, Lafayette, LA. June 1997. http://www.nwrc.usgs.gov/climate/fs92_97.pdf
  12. The Save Our Cypress Coalition Cypress Mulch Interactive Map. http://www.lmrk.org/allemans.html
  13. Day, Mollie. “The Unkindest Cut”, The Gambit Weekly. 14 Aug 2007. http://www.bestofneworleans.com/dispatch/2007-08-14/cover_story.php
  14. Coastal Wetland Forest Conservation and Use Science Working Group. Conservation, Protection and Utilization of Louisiana’s Coastal Wetland Forests. 03 April 2005. http://www.coastalforestswg.lsu.edu/
  15. Kohl, Dr. Barry and Shaffer, Dr. Gary. “Mulching Our Defenses- Cypress mulch and our coast”. Presentation to Sierra Club New Orleans Group. United Methodist Church, New Orleans. 14 January 2007.
  16. Louisiana Forestry Association in “Logging off”, Greater Baton Rouge Business Report. 10 Sept 2007. http://www.businessreport.com/news/2007/sep/10/logging/
  17. The Save Our Cypress Coalition Cypress Mulch Interactive Map. www.lmrk.org/cypressmap.html.
  18. Wold, Amy. “Wal-Mart drops state’s mulch”, Baton Rouge Advocate, 6 Sept 2007. http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/9608602.html?showAll=y&c=y
  19. Heffner, Rob. “Memo for Record. RE: Helicopter Logging Sites Proposed by Earl Billings on Behalf of —“, Internal US Army Corps of Engineers Memo. 12 April 2005. To obtain a copy of this memo, please contact Dan Favre, dan@healthygulf.org.
  20. The Save Our Cypress Coalition Cypress Mulch Interactive Map. www.lmrk.org/cypressmap.html.
  21. Wilson, Dean. Various photos. www.saveourcypress.org/gallery.php.
  22. Uribarri, Adrian. “Stately cypress trees go from icon to mulch”, Orlando Sun-Sentinel. 1 Oct 2007. http://www.sunsentinel.com/features/health/orl-cypress0107oct01,0,4769438.story
  23. Duryea, Mary. “Landscape Mulches: Will Subterranean Termites Consume Them?”, University of Florida, IFAS Extension. August 2000. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/FR075
  24. Duryea, Mary. “Landscape Mulches: How Quickly Do They Settle?”, University of Florida, IFAS Extension. October 1999. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/FR052
  25. Duryea, Mary and Hermanse, Annie. “Cypress: Florida’s Majestic and Beneficial Wetlands Tree”, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Services Extension. Revised June 2006. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/FR008
  26. University of Florida, IFAS Extension. “Why We Recommend That You NOT Use Cypress Mulch in Your Landscape”. http://pasco.ifas.ufl.edu/hort/mulches.htm.
  27. The Save Our Cypress Coalition Cypress Mulch Interactive Map. http://www.lmrk.org/happygro.html
  28. Van Heerden, Ivor. “Louisiana’s Natural Storm Protection”, Presentation to Wal-Mart Executives. Baton Rouge, LA. 16 March 2007.
  29. Shaffer, Gary. “Cypress Management, Mulching, and the Emerging State Plan”, Tulane Environmental Law Conference. 9 March 2007.
  30. Ibid.
  31. Barras, John A. Land area change in coastal Louisiana after the 2005 hurricanes—a series of three maps: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 06-1274. 2006. http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2006/1274/

What can I do to help protect the Gulf’s cypress forests?

What can I do to help protect the Gulf’s cypress forests?

Join in the efforts of the Save Our Cypress Coalition! You can start by making sure you’re only using sustainable alternatives to cypress mulch, like pine-bark nuggets, pine straw, melaleuca, farmed-eucalyptus, and sugarcane bagasse.


Take action
by asking the CEO’s of Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s to stop selling unsustainable cypress mulch.

If you’re a representative of an organization, consider joining the Save Our Cypress Coalition. Contact dan@healthygulf.org for more information.

What did you say about cypress as natural storm protection?

What did you say about cypress as natural storm protection?

Wetlands and marsh, in general, are crucial storm defenses, and cypress forests are our best natural storm protection. It is estimated that four miles of wetlands reduces storm surge by one foot and that one mile of cypress forests accomplishes the same reduction[28]. Even in areas farther from the coast, cypress trees are important for absorbing excess rainwater. Cypress forests are also very resilient, and they were virtually unaffected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.[29]  By contrast, trees in bottomland hardwood forests snapped like matchsticks[30], and we lost 217 square miles of wetlands.[31] As long as they are not cut down, cypress will continue to be storm protection for generations to come. 

How does all of this affect small landowners in Louisiana?

How does all of this affect small landowners in Louisiana?

Coastal wetland forest owners are sadly losing their trees. Logging advocates promote clear-cutting for mulch as a sustainable practice despite the fact that it flies in the face of all documented science, and small landowners who follow their advice could lose their forests forever.  The Save Our Cypress Coalition supports efforts to compensate landowners for leaving the land in trees, such as conservation easements, voluntary state buyout programs, and eco-tourism opportunities.  

I heard Wal-Mart is no longer selling cypress mulch. Doesn’t that mean the problem is fixed?

I heard Wal-Mart is no longer selling cypress mulch. Doesn’t that mean the problem is fixed?

Wal-Mart will still sell cypress mulch, but they have committed to no longer accepting cypress mulch that is harvested, bagged, or manufactured in the state of Louisiana. This is a good first step towards securing the Gulf’s endangered cypress forests, but we’ve still got a hike ahead of us. It’s great that Wal-Mart recognized that cypress sustainability is a major concern, but they are only one company, and Louisiana is only one state. Production of cypress mulch will undoubtedly be shifted to other states, like Florida. In Florida, cypress is already being harvested at a faster rate than it can regenerate, and 47% of it is used to produce cypress mulch.[25, 26] Home Depot and Lowe’s have both stated that they will not take from coastal Louisiana, but there is no enforceable mechanism for ensuring that the moratorium is being upheld by their suppliers. Even Wal-Mart cannot be positive that they are not receiving cypress from Louisiana without an independent, third-party certification program. Many of the brands of mulch produced in Louisiana are already with addresses in Florida, Texas, and Arkansas.[27] 

Some people say that cypress mulch is rot- and insect-resistant and that it doesn�t float away. Is c

Some people say that cypress mulch is rot- and insect-resistant and that it doesn’t float away. Is cypress mulch better than sustainable alternatives?

No, the perception of cypress as a wonder wood persists from a time when lumber was produced from old-growth. The truth is today’s cypress harvested for cypress mulch is usually younger, smaller trees that have not had the time (hundreds of years) to develop the decay and insect resistant properties of older trees.[22] For example, melaleuca mulch is better at keeping bugs away,[23] and pine straw stays in place better than cypress mulch.[24]  Sustainable alternatives to cypress can satisfy gardeners’ mulching needs.   

How much cypress is used for mulch?

How much cypress is used for mulch?

That’s a good question, and the answer is very unclear. Evidence collected by the Save Our Cypress Coalition suggests that cypress mulch is the main driver of cypress logging. Of the seven cypress manufacturing facilities we know of in the state, there are only two are producing any lumber at all[16], and they both make massive amounts of cypress mulch from whole trees as well.[17]  The Louisiana Forestry Association states that less than 20% of cypress harvested is used for mulch, but they present no data to back that assertion. And their aggressive public campaign on the issue and claims that the cypress industry will die without the mulch market suggest that it is a more significant product.[18]


On-the-ground evidence shows that the market for

cypress mulch is a leading cause of cypress deforestation.


An internal US Army Corps of Engineers memo shows that one mulch producer has inquired about logging up to 50,000 acres in Louisiana to produce cypress mulch.[19]

I understand that water levels, or hydrology…

I understand that water levels, or hydrology, in Louisiana have changed and that threatens regeneration. Is that the only issue?

No. Invasive species and other faster-growing species have also changed the landscape for cypress regeneration.[11,12]  Even proponents of cypress harvesting admit it, “Pointing to a number of sprouting young trees – Chinese tallow, maple, oak, and green ash – Thomas [Mike Thomas, state stewardship coordinator for the Office of Forestry] says, ‘This is a forest to me – not a big forest, not all cypress, but it’s got trees on it.”[13] Cypress forests provide unique ecological, economical, and hurricane protection benefits that these other trees cannot.[14,15]

Foresters say we harvest about 30 million board feet of cypress each year…

Foresters say we harvest about 30 million board feet of cypress each year but we also have about 21 million board feet of cypress dying in our forests due to various reasons, mostly saltwater intrusion. Is that true?

Yes. Hydrology changes and salt water intrusion are threatening our coastal forests[10], which is one reason we need to protect these areas from unnecessary logging. Cutting down cypress when they’re already dying off is like spending your money faster because you’re going broke. Members of the Save Our Cypress Coalition are also very active in larger coastal restoration efforts.