Old growth trees can be very valuable as lumber. Tree spiking, a form of ecotage or monkeywrenching, is driving a metal or ceramic rod into a living tree. This discourages logging by marking trees or stands as dangerous to cut and mill.

Spiked tree warning

Although it is sometimes possible to remove the spikes, spiking has deterred logging: "prudence directs that in most cases spiked trees be left alone". For example, in 1982, some 2000 trees at the Grouse Mountain Ski Resort in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada were reportedly not logged after being spiked.

In terms of the number of trees left standing, what was the largest single logging project derailed by spiking?

  • 4
    Why are there 2 VTC ? The question seems legit to me, even if I am unsure to which SE it belongs.
    – Evargalo
    Jun 4, 2020 at 10:40
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    As a general observation, a question which finds it necessary to create three new tags is probably about a topic we have not previously considered history (or we would have the tags in place).
    – justCal
    Jun 4, 2020 at 12:41
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    The question is also about a topic some might view differently, considering that even the leader of Earth-first has renounced tree spiking, and it is a felony in the US, it might be considered by some more eco-terrorism than a valid form of environmentalism.
    – justCal
    Jun 4, 2020 at 13:03
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    To be honest, given the current debates about tagging in meta, I'm really not sure it's a great idea to create multiple new tags without first asking the community view on whether those tags are needed in meta. Jun 4, 2020 at 19:40
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    @AaronBrick The current discussions happening on meta suggests the community feels otherwise. See here and here for example. If you have a different view, by all means feel free to contribute to that debate on meta. Jun 4, 2020 at 22:06

1 Answer 1


Question: Where did tree spiking prevent the most logging?

Short Answer:
Tree Spiking was most effective in Virginia's George Washington National Forest, and in the Wanatchee Forest's Icicle River drainage in Washington state, or where Logging wasn't a major part of the local economy. These are the only two places where tree spiking actually interrupted for a time lumber sales. Where logging was a major factor in the local economy tree spiking proved to be ineffective deterent to logging after it's initial introduction.

The Secret History of Tree Spiking
Even unabashed Earth First! apologist Chris Manes, writing in his well researched book Green Rage, could only come up with two timber sales that were canceled because they were spiked, one in George Washington National Forest in Virginia, and one in the Wanatchee Forest's Icicle River drainage in Washington state. I don't know about the trees in Virginia, but the Icicle River sale has since been cut.

Detailed Answer:
Tree spiking which is believed to have originated in the United States in the early 1980's spread out to several countries, including Canada, and New Zealand. While initially it caused some casualties,

Tree Spiking
In 1987, California mill worker George Alexander was seriously injured when the bandsaw he was operating hit an 11-inch spike embedded in a 12-inch trunk with a worn-out blade he had earlier requested to be replaced.

It was ineffective because once allerted the the problem it was easy enough for the lumber industry or Forest Service to dispatch workers with metal detectors to remove spikes from the trees. Even when spikes have been missed the lumber industry ultimately chalks it up to the cost of doing business.

The Secret History of Tree Spiking
there have been scores and scores of tree-spikings, and in the vast majority of cases, the Forest Service or timber company just sent people in with metal detectors and, often with great public fanfare, removed the spikes and cut the trees. Sometimes spikes were missed and sometimes they hit the blades in sawmills. But the timber industry has made it quite clear that this is a price they are willing to pay.


from AaronBrick, Do mills simply expect to put their employees in danger and break their saw blades by cutting through ceramic spikes that their metal detectors could not locate?

This Dec 2019 Newspaper Article quotes the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics listing Logging as the most dangerous job in the United States. Sites fatalities coming from loggers being struck by flying debree and equipment failure. So I would say.. pretty much yes, Logging is a dangerous job and Mills put their employees at risk. Found statistics from other years where Logging was top 2 for other years too. It's not only spikes which cause saw blades/chains to break. dense wood(knots) or the weight of the wood can also pinch the blade and cause it break. The net result is the same. loggers can be put in danger when their equipment breaks.


  • Do mills simply expect to put their employees in danger and break their saw blades by cutting through ceramic spikes that their metal detectors could not locate? Jun 4, 2020 at 18:37
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    @AaronBrick Just look at the numbers in a story here. $20,000 cost in down time and equipment vs a $4.57 million dollar investment into the lumber. The damage was less then a half of one percent of the investment. Not important to the corporation doing the work, just to any workers endangered by the actions.
    – justCal
    Jun 4, 2020 at 19:22
  • @AaronBrick, responded at the end of my answer
    – user27618
    Jun 4, 2020 at 19:47
  • @justCal That accounting is a very helpful way to frame the decision. Jun 5, 2020 at 5:54

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