Quick takes on the "should they stay" eucalyptus debate

eucalyptus branches home decor

Is California better off clearing the eucalyptus trees or conserving them? Herein, we summarize the controversy surrounding the beautiful trees.

Let’s start with one side of the debate, with the factions of environmentalists that want the trees gone. Their argument is two fold. To start, eucalyptus trees are slightly invasive to California. Eucalyptus trees compete with native plants and have no native enemies here, be that diseases or pests or predatory koalas.

Next is firestorms. Eucalyptus trees are especially adapted to fire. If the tops are burnt, the trees can still grow from the root. Its seeds are heat resistant, and the oil from the leaves are highly flammable. Thus eucalyptus trees often survive wildfires over the competition. The trees can be hundreds of feet tall, but remain very skinny with weak branches. Thus the branches constantly fall down, which can damage homes and pose as a danger on roads. In addition, fallen branches create more brush to feed wildfires, which is particularly dangerous near homes and buildings.

Thus, these groups want eucalyptus trees eradicated from the state, and replaced with native trees.

On the opposing side of the argument, other groups of environmentalists argue that the trees may pose less of a fire risk than what could replace them, and that the first group is only using the fear of fire as a scare tactic to promote the planting of native species. They claim the trees are worth keeping around for their beauty, shade, wind-protection, oxygen-emission, and fragrance. In fact, some people associate the scent with the state of California! The trees also inhabit hiking and recreational grounds, as well as serving as habitats. They are also extremely hardy, and can survive dry seasons and even continue to grow. The trees are used today for pulpwood, oil, medical products, foods, perfumes, toothpaste, and industrial solvents.

These environmentalists also claim that the expensive process of clear-cutting and poisoning of trees will cause more damage than good, with the use of herbicides that could be poisonous to humans.

We are deeply concerned about the recent wildfire storms in Northern California (our home) and the rest of the state. We aren’t sure clear-cutting is the way to go. Replanting native-California trees in their place does not seem to be the solution, nor does doing nothing! Do you have any resolutions or ideas?

-Liv