Monkeywrenching is the illegal sabotage of industrial development equipment. One method of doing so is tree spiking, hammering long nails into and around the trunks of trees to mangle saws and blades in the deforesting area or mill. While most monkeywrenchers do not possess deadly intent, tree spiking has caused logger fatalities in the past. If monkeywrenchers fail to warn loggers of tree spikes, tools hitting the spikes cause flying fragments. Monkeywrenchers can also "go in" as in a stealth mission and directly destroy machinery by "monkeywrenching", or hacking cranes and other equipment using their own tools.

Monkeywrenching's is used as a final step in ecological defense when other measures have failed. Monkeywrenchers believe that in the long run, by destroying machinery, contracting companies will have a greater tendency to invest in security and insurance premiums, making wilderness development unprofitable. Monkeywrenching is also a delaying tactic against wilderness development. As contractors deal with damaged equipment, injunctions may be obtained, laws may be passed, and public awareness may be raised.

While the term may sound silly, monkeywrenchers take their beliefs seriously. They are willing to work on their own, pay fines and get arrested and imprisoned for their belief in ecological defense. Ecodefense; A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching by Dave Foreman and Bill Haywood is an entertaining and comprehensive manual for sabotaging machinery.