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actions & protests | forest defense

To Spike or Not to Spike

A position piece on the tactic of tree-spiking.
Although never widely implemented as a tactic, at least the idea of tree-spiking was once regularly discussed. Nowadays it is dismissed without a thought - much less a second one.
For those of you not familiar with tree-spiking... the tactic involves placing small hard spikes sporadically in some of the trees scheduled to be clearcut in an old-growth forest. The foot-long spikes (made of non-corrosive metal or high-tempered ceramics) do much less damage than the chainsaws and lumber mills which they are designed to destroy on contact.
The ethical argument against this tactic is that chainsaws could snap when they hit the spikes and potentially harm harm loggers. However, clearcutting is ultimately suicidal to begin and nobody is forced to be a logger. Furthermore, if the spikes are placed ten feet high in the trees they probably won't be hit till they reach the expensive saw blades in the lumbermill. Also, if the tree-spiking activity is well publicized, detailing exactly which THP was protected, that is more than fair warning to anyone who still wants to clearcut. Therefore, in my opinion, spiking should be considered a NON-violent action. And again, anyway, clearcutting is a suicidal and ecocidal act to begin with and should be stopped by any means necessary. If on the off chance that the timber industry still chooses to cut in a spiked area, despite the warnings, then THEY should be held responsible for any injuries (which might eventually make them rethink their position). If the tactic ever became widespread enough a mere warning would someday suffice to save a threatened forest.
Although denounced by mainstream forest activists (who want to make friends with the loggers), I believe they contradict the Earth First motto: NO COMPROMISE in defense of Mother Earth. And, despite what anyone might say, I believe it's the lumber company executives who hate tree spiking more than anybody else.
Spiking 13.Oct.2003 13:38


Spiking is completely appropriate, but I am glad to see a rational discussion of it (no action should be undertaken blindly).

If you spike an area though, make sure you put up signs or something (Well after the bark heals over so they can't cut around it, but well before the cutting is scheduled to begin). Spiking a tree is akin to laying out land mines, and you don't want to be responsable for some random person 20 years down the road getting hurt or killed (not all who cut trees are clear cutters, they could just be cutting down three or four trees to make a woodland cabin, which is not going to screw up the environment).

Clear-cutters are scum, let's face it, and if the Oregon lumber companies get all their equipment wrecked, I say "Hooray!" Why is it that in states like Michigan, the lumber companies manage to turn huge profits WITHOUT making the state look like a shaved head? Why is it that Oregon lumber barons can not grasp the concept of "cut every third tree in an area three times as large, rather than cut all the trees in one area?" It is really not that hard to understand, cut a tree, plant a tree, skip a tree, repeat. They would still get all the lumber they get now (face it, we need wood. Our houses, my futon, etc are all wood), but they would barely have an impact on the forrest. Animals would still be able to walk through, birds would still be able to nest, etc. The only thing that is hard about thinning, rather than shaving, the woods is that some trees have to be carried farther.

Clear-cutting is just lazy.

The problem with tree-spiking 13.Oct.2003 18:49


... is that logging companies ignore the warnings and cut in spiked areas anyhow. Then the spiked logs cause accidents capable of killing or maiming workers in the mills.

See  http://www.things.org/~jym/ef/tree-spiking-memo.html for the EF! memo in which tree spiking was renounced.

Executives don't hate spiking as much as actual workers themselves 13.Oct.2003 21:25


How can spiking be considered "non-violent" when its *intention* is to harm, even kill, the logger? It's not the executive which is harmed, it is the working-class logger trying to survive in a difficult job economy. The logger's intention is to harvest wood, not to kill themselves or their environment, and they are dismissive of eco-friendly arguments only out of a shortsighted economic desperation. Real economic alternatives must be found to provide loggers and their families with sustenance outside of an ecocidal industry.

BUFFALO HUNTERS 14.Oct.2003 06:29

Ben A. Roya

Buffalo hunters learned a new trade, but only after they'd killed all the buffalo. If our timber industry is in decline, maybe it's time those buffalo hunters put down their chainsaws and learn how to change oil in cars or erect scaffolding.

I don't have any sympathy for loggers or logging companies. You reap what you sow.

Well Ben 14.Oct.2003 07:45


Well Ben, it's probably easy for you to sit in your comfortable room, drinking lattes, with your Lewis and Clark degree, and heading off to a cush job in the city. But for people in rural areas, the choice can boil down to A: Work in a mill to feed their family or B: Starve. I wonder which one you would pick if you were in their shoes.

Nice presumption, Joe 14.Oct.2003 08:06

Ben A. Roya

Don't preach, son. I'm as country as the day is long and damned well know what it takes to make ends meet when you live 200 miles from the closest latte-serving, cush job-offering city. You're as full of shit as you are of yourself.

You already look stupid. Do you want me to continue so you can look foolish too?

Lumbering is not wrong, CLEAR CUTTING is wrong! 14.Oct.2003 09:47


Look, the guy that wrote the post said the spikes should be 10 feet up (thus, the people that cut them down are safe), and I added that the spiked areas should be marked (not the trees individually, just the areas).

This makes all the following arguements about killing and maiming the loggers moot, they can be perfectly safe. And, if the logging companies try to force them to cut trees in areas that have huge signs saying "WARNING-Randomly spiked trees, do not cut" they can sue the crap out of their company for OSHA violations.

Of course, the alternative is to do what Michigan does, which is to have a hugely profitable logging industry that does not clear cut. But that would make too much sense.

spike the ceo's! 28.Oct.2003 12:01

Sir Richard F Thurmwald III

Maybe a more effective tactic would be to spike the actual directors of destruction...the corporate higher-ups. Im shure that some of them would think twice about raping Mother Earth if they got a 10 Inch spike through their head...