Logging is among the most destructive economic activities because it directly destroys habitat upon which animals depend. Favored trees include teak, mahogany and kapok. It receives a lot of bad publicity because it is an obvious and direct cause of rainforest destruction. Industrial-scale clear-cutting (removal of all trees in an area, see Clear-cutting), is the worst offender as it completely changes the habitat and the forest will take centuries to recover, if ever. Usually, little of the proceeds from the sale of logs remains in the country of origin, especially if unprocessed lumber is exported to industrialized countries. Hence it is wise to avoid products made from tropical wood unless it has been produced sustainably. With small-scale logging trees are selectively moved with little harm to the forest, and the logs are often processed locally. This system is less harmful, and if sustainably practiced, can provide local people and their government with a long-term income.
We have witnessed the death of a giant. Huge trees such as the one that produced the log shown in this photo (taken near Iquitos, Peru) are thought to be thousands of years old. (Note the people standing to the left of the log.)
Logs taken from the forest are floated in rafts to log mills in cities. The log raft here is waiting outside the Santa Maria log mill to be cut into planks. The processed wood is used locally or exported.
Lumber processed locally with modern methods is often wasteful, such as when a chainsaw is used to make planks. Close inspection of the cut log shows a large amount of wood ends up as saw dust. An industrial sawmill is more efficient but can process logs much faster.