photo of CoastEcoTimber barge

There are hundreds of millions, maybe even a billion, board feet at the bottom of Lake Bayano in Panama, and CoastEcoTimber owner Alana Husby is surfacing as many trees as she can in the greenest, most sustainable ways possible.

"Wouldn't you rather walk on some floors that were underwater logged by indigenous people rather than something clearcut from the jungle?" she asks. "All that deforestation is unsettling." Lake Bayano was jungle before being flooded in 1976 for a hydroelectric dam, submerging the area's enormous trees, including zapatero, amargo amargo and cedro espino, she says. Husby came some 30 years later, with vegetable oil-lubricated hydraulic chainsaws. To harvest a single tree, Husby's staff-she employs 100, mostly from the indigenous Kuna tribe-dive down and tie 30-gallon drums around the tree. Each drum is then filled with air and the tree is sawn through at its base. It shoots out of the water (see the short video of this happening below), and the barge tows it to land. Using Husby's product guarantees a number of positive marks from green building certification standards. "I was always obsessed with the piles of waste rather than the piles of wood," Husby says, recalling the time spent around her father's timber business while growing up. "Now I've started hustling the waste."

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slideshow of CoastEcoTimber


Andrew Averill is the former associate editor at Wood Floor Business. A graduate of journalism at the University of Wisconsin, he had internships at newspapers across the country—San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, The Flint Journal—before a bad case of rug burn turned him into an advocate for floors of a harder disposition.