The plight of the cypress forests has been featured in the March 2008 edition of Mother Jones magazine. Excerpt is below as well as a link to the complete article on MotherJones.com.
Like a Great Wall rimming the coast, cypress forests in the
Atchafalaya and elsewhere in Louisiana are the single best defense
against hurricanes—magnitudes stronger, more enduring, and cheaper than
any concrete or earthen levee. Their extensive root system spreads
several hundred feet, weaving a tight lattice that serves as an anchor
against high winds and storm surges. Hassan Mashriqui, a Louisiana
State University professor of coastal engineering who creates computer
simulations of hurricanes, told me that a stand of cypress just a
football field in width can slash a town-leveling, 20-foot-high storm
surge by 90 percent.
Which makes it all the more staggering that in recent years an
entire industry intent on logging cypress has lawfully sprung up. Some
of the timber winds up as boards for home construction or furniture,
but most trees are ground into garden mulch. That’s right: The last
natural stronghold that could stop hurricanes from obliterating
southern Louisiana is being pulverized into chips to adorn the very
homes that the cypress would save from annihilation. According to the
Louisiana Forestry Association, loggers are razing up to 20,000 acres
of cypress every year. If the carnage continues apace, Louisiana’s
strongest barrier between it and an angry sea will be gone in fewer
than two decades.
Read the complete article on Mother Jones.
Sun Newspapers – December 7th 2007
Thirty-nine percent of the nation’s most endangered
birds spend at least part of their year in Florida, acording to the
…The Prothonotary Warbler is among 119 species found
to be declining in number at an increasing rate. They are found in
South County in cypress swamps and other forested wetlands lined with
Spanish moss. Logging for the production of cypress mulch was cited as
a cause of the decline…
By Gerald A. Rogovin
Herald Tribune –
Published Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Cypress trees should be preserved for their environmental benefits
Cypress mulch is popular for use in gardens and in landscaping around homes and businesses. But people who use cypress mulch should know that their choice can harm Florida’s wetlands, the Gulf and our coastal environment in general.
It would be far better to allow cypress trees to remain knee-deep — literally — in swampy waters rather than cut them down and grind them for mulch.
Other types of hardwood and softwood mulch are available and just as effective for retaining moisture in the soil, experts say. Environmental groups encourage the use of those mulches in an effort to preserve cypress and its significant benefits.
The Daily Times – Salisbury, Md., April 15th 2008
…"Since the cypress tree has such a specific
habitat and is slow to germinate, they were replaced with maple and gum
trees," Fehr said. "And contrary to popular belief, cypress trees are
not a sustainable product because they are so hard to grow."
trees are not protected in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida where they
are clear cut for mulch. Fehr said this further destroys their
sensitive habitat and prevents new trees from taking root.
"It also creates the potential for invasive species to come in and crowd out cypress trees," he said….
News-Press.com, April 12, 2008
"We need to educate people," said Mary Duryea, professor and
extension specialist of the University of Florida’s School of Forest
Resources and Conservation. "Do we want to use cypress harvested from
wetlands or help melaleuca from lands down there (in South Florida)?
"As far as quality, pine bark, melaleuca, eucalyptus all last just as long as cypress and do just as good a job."
The Guilfordian, April 18 2008
"Lowe’s talks a big game about protecting the planet’s forests, but
they’re not living up to the hype," said John Avery, president of the
Earth Club at UNC-Charlotte in a press release. "They have the
opportunity to be an environmental leader by simply making the switch
to sustainable alternatives."
The Times Picayune – New Orleans, June 21 2008
As gardeners turn to mulching to fend off heat and weeds in their summer beds, it’s a good time to take a look at the ongoing controversy over cypress mulch.
Once favored as the platinum level of mulches, its use now is being discouraged through massive public information campaigns by organizations across the Gulf Coast, including the
Waterkeeper Alliance, Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper, Atchafalaya Riverkeeper and the Save Our Cypress Coalition. Because cypress is grown primarily in wetlands areas, opponents of cypress mulch say, cutting the trees contributes to habitat destruction and the erosion of wetlands, an important line of defense againt hurricanes.
Moreover, they continue, green-minded individuals won’t be losing anything by boycotting cypress mulch: It doesn’t work as effectively as gardeners once believed.
"People think that cypress mulch is more rot-resistant and insect-resistant, but scientists at the University of Florida have shown that there are equally effective sustainable alternatives that don’t deplete our natural wetlands and don’t deprive our gardens of the benefits of mulching," said Dan Favre, campaign manager of the nonprofit Gulf Restoration Network. "The really sad piece of all this is that the popularity of cypress mulch is predicated on myths."
Molly Reid – Staff Writer
The Times Picayune
The Washington Post, June 5, 2008; Page H01
…As I see people hauling and ripping these bags, I wonder, what’s driving them? Is it a clear understanding of the benefits of mulch, or is it some civic impulse to conform in what has become Mulch Nation?
"We seem to have gone nuts for mulch," said Marylee Orr, an environmentalist who says our addiction to mulch is costing Louisiana its coastal cypress forests.
Without doubt, we decorate our lives with mulch in a way our ancestors would have found strange and extravagant.
Adrian Higgins – Writer
The Washington Post
MongaBay.com November 5, 2008
The cypress forests of
Louisiana have suffered much devastation from human development,
coastal erosion, and exploitation by the lumber industry. Now, vast
tracts are being clear cut for the production of cypress mulch. A new
online campaign — saveourcypress.org — is seeking to reform the Louisiana cypress mulch industry.
Cypress wetland forests are among the most productive wetland
ecosystems in the world, but with no state laws in place to protect
Louisiana trees, these forests are being logged without discretion, at
a rate of 20,000 acres per year. In the mid-1800s, Louisiana boasted
over two million acres of cypress-tupelo swamps; currently, fewer than
half that number currently exist.
Morgan Erickson-Davis, special to mongabay.com
Crozet Gazette May 14, 2009
There are a couple of types of mulch I would avoid, however. One is cypress, available in bags at some big-box stores. There is at least one website devoted to the evils of cypress mulch, which has nothing to do with it damaging your plants. The issue: bald cypress is not a particularly common tree, being restricted to southern swamps. It does not regenerate rapidly and is vital to the swamp ecosystem. It is a waste of a good and magnificent tree to grind it up and throw it on your garden.
Charles Kidder – Crozet Gazette