A few years ago several environmental groups raised the issue that the sale of cypress mulch was causing the decline of cypress forests. Cypress can live, but cannot regenerate, in areas that are permanently flooded. These groups alleged that cypress was being harvested on private lands that were permanently flooded. Therefore, the trees were unable to regenerate and moreover the loss of the trees would lead to further coastal erosion.
Wood mulch from cypress is a by-product of the sawmilling process. Cypress is much too valuable as lumber or veneer to use the whole tree for mulch. Any business that directly processes cypress logs into mulch will not be in business very long. Moreover, special equipment is needed to harvest timber in flooded areas which will significantly cut down on an already thin profit margin.
These groups raised some valid issues regarding the inability of cypress to regenerate in permanently flooded areas. However, the allegation that large cypress trees are directly processed into mulch defies simple economics. Coastal erosion in Louisiana is indeed a significant issue, and its protection is vital for our seafood industry. However, some have proposed that potential “coastal harvesting” regulations should include the entire state. This position is certainly not popular with the south Louisiana forest industry but perhaps even more difficult to understand for those hundreds of miles away in north Louisiana.
Todd Shupe is the President of Wood Science Consulting, LLC. He is a a well-recognized expert on wood preservation, insects and fungi, wood decay and degradation, and wood species identification. He has a broad background in new product development, quality management, and marketing and sales in both the public and private sectors. For more information please visit DrToddShupe.com.