Deep into the Darien Jungle of Panama, a young forest of teak stands tall. Planted nearly 15 years ago, the trees of this teak plantation will be ready for harvest in 10 years. Teak, Tectona grandis, is a tropical hardwood native to Southeast Asia. The old growth forests of Burma, India, Indonesia and Thailand were disappearing at an alarming rate. Sustainable Teak Plantations are now successfully grown throughout the tropical regions of the globe.
Teak hardwood is a durable yellowish brown timber with a pleasing natural grain. The wood is most often used on boats, outdoor furniture and decks. The high oil content helps resist pests, fire and moisture fluctuations. Prices for tropical hardwoods are increasing each year and a wise longterm investment. The plantation manager explained each hectare of land, or 2.2 acres, starts with 40 or so planted saplings and are thinned to about 20 by year 15. The purpose for planting so tightly in the beginning is so the trees will compete and grow tall. The taller the trees, the longer the boards are for the final harvest. The last 10 years of growth are for fattening the tall trees. After 25 years, the teak forest is ready for harvest.
Young teak competing for sunlight, smaller and curved trees will be thinned and sold at market
Jocobo explaining how a tree will price at market
Older trees growing after resisting fire due to high oil content
The Darien Province of Panama borders Colombia. The area grows thick with tropical rainforest and the PanAmerican highway ends due to the impenetrable jungle. The rivers flow into lakes and the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. In order to enter or leave the Darien, passports and paperwork must be in proper order. The jungle is a known smuggling route and during tougher periods a place for guerrilla fighters to hide. Except at the checkpoint, there is no place to stop and eat or drink along the way. In the jungle, the native people are living simple lives. Most do not want their pictures taken or ask to be paid. Our day in the Darien was a unique experience and one we will never forget.
The checkpoint for entering the Darien Province
Thank you to everyone in our crew
For more information about the Teak Plantation visit www.teakhardwoods.com
The Art of Travel- watch a fun movie about the Darien Province