Evaluating cypress sustainability - "FIA in the hot seat"This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
The use of cypress (Taxodium species) for mulch boomed during the 1990s, and its growth in popularity created concerns about the sustainability of cypress forests in the Southern United States. A combination of factors, including Hurricane Katrina, cypress harvesting practices, and the unique requirements for successful regeneration of cypress drew media attention and fueled debates over sustainability of cypress forests. The wood industry, Federal, State, and local governments, academia, environmental and conservation organizations, and retailers all became entangled in the issue. This eventually culminated in proposed legislation to place a moratorium on cypress harvesting and the decision by at least one large retailer to cease selling cypress mulch that was produced in Louisiana. These factors launched an intensive search for viable data about the cypress resource. Requests for Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) cypress data escalated. This paper describes the challenges FIA encountered in meeting the need to quantify trends in the cypress resource despite changes in inventory methods, forest-type defi nitions, plot design, processing algorithms, sample intensity, etc. The paper explains the constraints that were overcome to report region-wide cypress data and to develop a Southwide cypress factsheet. It also shows how FIA data was used to provide State level cypress trends, focusing on Florida as an example.