Despite their large size, and rapid growth characteristics, giant sequoias are no longer cut for timber. The wood, which is extremely resistant to decay, is also very brittle, and is frequently destroyed in the falling process. Several groves of giant sequoias were all but destroyed shortly after their discovery in the mid-nineteenth century. In general though, the species never became important industrially because it was so difficult to harvest. Today almost all giant sequoias are protected from cutting, helping to minimize the threats humans pose to their continuance.