Harvesting Teak in Panama

Teak is a very hard, durable, and water resistant wood that is often used for boats and other outdoor uses. It is native to Asia and India, but it was found that it grows very well in Panama so there are many teak forests scattered around the country.


The owner of the woods across the street from us planted pine and teak on the land. Recently, she decided to harvest some of the teak. A little of it is in the woods on our level, but much of it is down the cliff on the land by the river. We have been hearing chain saws in the woods for a few days. Yesterday I went to see what was making noise and found them unloading a tractor.

I told them I was taking photos for my grandson who loves big machinery, so they invited me to come along and watch them at work.

These are some strong guys! The small one in the purple shirt is probably 5’4″, and Joel said shaking his hand was like touching a body made of rock. He handles the large chain saw like it’s nothing. They had the trees prepared, then used the tractor and cable to bring them up, and then the tractor and chains to drag them out of the woods.

You can see a lot more of this process in the video below.

The guys returned this morning. There was more sawing and a new truck so I went over to see what they were up to.  I was even more interested and surprised by what I saw. There is also a video but here is a hint.

There is a bit of video as well.

Now, it seems like every stage of the operation is in progress at the same time. The tractor is still bringing up more trees. The guy is sawing them at the edge of the woods. The loaded truck just left with the logs strapped down and guys riding on top of the wood. Probably they are needed for the unloading as well, and then they will be back.

This was shortly before the truck left the neighborhood.

This was shortly before the truck left the neighborhood.


Teak is expensive wood. This interesting article HERE says there is about 350 board feet of wood per mature tree. They take 20-25 years to reach maturity but the paycheck at the end can be substantial. Retail for dried and treated wood looks like its about $15-25/board foot so even if the owner gets 1/3 of that, she is going to walk away with a nice bit of money.

The guys told me that they will be cutting pine trees next. I kind of hate to see them go because that pine forest is very beautiful. I wonder if she is clearing the land for development though. Hmmm… it’s an excellent spot right above the river. We shall see what the future brings and go from there.

Yep, the guys on the truck just returned all riding on the bed of the truck, ready to load it up again.

About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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2 Responses to Harvesting Teak in Panama

  1. ME BE in Panama says:

    I thought nursing was back breaking work. That made made back hurt just watching how they loaded those logs Kris! Thanks for the interesting blog. Bet it’s great to be back home.


    • Wasn’t that crazy?! Today they loaded and unloaded three trucks full, finishing the last one after dark in the pouring rain. A lot of these Panamanian guys are amazingly strong. I was hiking once with a guy maybe half my size and I slipped on a steep and muddy part of the trail. He grabbed my hand and hauled me up like it was nothing.
      It was a great trip but yes, I’m very happy to be home.


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