Wildlife friendly mulches that I use are listed out below. Would love to know what others are using because I have always favored organic mulches.
I used to use cypress mulch until a friend shared the link below with me-
I used up what I had left and never purchased it again. I hate feeling guilty about using a product.
Dyed mulches may look attractive for a period of time but they have their own issues and aren't exactly environmentally friendly.
I do not use cedar mulch anywhere any longer as it is does not appear to be good for man or beast and can be particularly deadly to herps. It has allegedly now been clinically proven that the vaporized oils from cedar can cause lung infections and even cancer. I didn't take a good look to see if I could locate anything online to back up my comments but Cornell probably has some study out there somewhere as well as other universities. Cedar does have an insecticidal chemical present which is why we use it for closets and such. The chemical is plicatic acid and it has caused asthma and problems for many animals when used as bedding. I never could figure out if the presence of the acid was a detriment to plants but here is a link you might find of interest if you had been considering using cedar mulch in an area where children or pets or wildlife are-
Although pine does contain abietic acid, it doesn't appear to be carcinogenic like cedar. The oils in pine mulches do make me itch like the dickens but that's just due to an allergy I have to it. I never removed any of the cedar mulch that I had used in the past as I was told it wasn't worth my time or effort. It is my understanding that after a year or so, the undesirables would have leached into the soil underneath where any cedar mulch had been used.
I now rely almost exclusively on hardwood bark and/or chips, pine bark and/or chips, crushed corncobs, grass clippings, cardboard, seaweed (when a relative brings it to me), peanut hulls, straw, pine needles, cottonseed & buckwheat hulls, and shredded leaves as mulch. I've also been known to lay down torn and tattered 100% cotton clothing that has seen better days as mulch. Old clothing can work, just remove any buttons or zippers. Sheesh, we can even use newspaper as mulch as inks are now all soy based. I will use layers of white pine needles around acid loving plants such as hydrangeas, rhodos, and azaleas and then I just cover it with whatever is handy. I really like the look of pine bark mulch but cocoa bean mulches definitely have their place on my property and they smell so nice and look so attractive in flower beds. Unfortunately, cocoa mulch is sort of expensive and there are several drawbacks to using cocoa bean mulch particularly if one has dogs- mycotoxin producing molds and compounds that can be toxic to dogs as well as other pets and livestock. I've not had an issue with molds in my cocoa bean mulches because I take care to turn them with my hands to expose any moldy layers to the sun but you can also rake them to stir them up too. Regarding the toxic compounds present, most people know chocolate can kill a dog. What they don't realize is that very similar toxic compounds are present in cocoa beans. Most dogs, unlike wildlife, don't have that intuition that safeguards them from chowing down on poisonous plants or for that matter toxic mulches. For me, not a problem as our dogs aren't allowed in areas where cocoa bean mulch is used so no risk of them sampling it and the wildlife won't sample it.
More info here on the mycotoxin producing molds-
I have recently begun to place burlap over the top of my mulch around trees and saplings. According to quite a few experts, the burlap enhances biological activity associated with humus production. I just began adding burlap so have little or no personal experience with it other than the addition of same made sense to me and I figured why not. Could be hype but we'll see.