Rick Paid is like the Indiana Jones of timber. One part adventurer, one part preservationist and one part visionary, he is sustaining the health of the Brazilian rainforest, and its people, by crafting timber homes from exotic hardwoods.
Photos: Courtesy Amazon Timber Frames
Everything is interconnected in the world of Rick Paid, and it all leads back to Brazil. He founded Amazon Timber Frames in 2003 to share the beauty and diversity of the Brazilian hardwoods he loves with a wider audience. Amazon’s sister company, Rare Earth Hardwoods, has been an importer of exotic hardwoods since 1984, and when the timber frame company was founded, Rare Earth opened its own production facility in Santarem, Brazil, to meet the needs of both Amazon Timber Frames and its regular clientele. That facility, Zero Impact Brazil, produces specialty hardwood lumber, large slabs, siding, decking, flooring, paneling, timber packages and timber frames. Rick is passionate about the rainforest, and to that end his companies focus on procuring wood with minimal negative impact on the forests of the region and, when possible, harvest logs under their own exclusive “3D Guidelines” — prioritizing trees that are “Dying, Dead and Down.”
The connections don’t end with those two companies, however. Rick invested time, energy and resources, purchasing “The 766,” as he calls it. His mission in purchasing 766 hectares (1,893 acres) of forestland fronting along the river Igarapé São Benedito was to protect and rehabilitate this precious forest, which sits right at the edge of the “soy highway” and was under threat of destruction, like so much of Brazil’s rainforest. Rick sees this as part of his life’s work and is in the process of developing a strategy for permanent protection of the land.
Meanwhile, he and his team welcome visitors to The 766 through Big Tree Adventure Tours, introducing them to the wonders of the Brazilian rainforest. This is not your typical eco-tourism. Highlights include some of the largest trees in the world and a tour of the Zero Impact Brazil facility, along with hikes, a visit to Fordlandia (the prefabricated town founded by Henry Ford in the 1920s) and a trip to the National Forest of Tapajos, with the goal of visiting the Maguary community whose livelihood is still based on rubber tree products.
While visitors marvel at the rich beauty and range of color and texture of the Brazilian hardwoods, construction is where these woods truly shine. They are incredibly dense, tightly grained species that are naturally rot and insect resistant and stand up to extreme weather and harsh climates like no other. They can be challenging to work with, but they are well worth the effort. The Brazilian craftsmen who manipulate the wood are experienced builders who have an intimate understanding of how to construct homes that can withstand nearly anything Mother Nature throws their way.
The strongest testament to these hardwoods and the men who craft them was made when an Amazon Timber Frames home in St. Maarten went toe-to-toe with Hurricane Irma. Perched at the highest point overlooking the harbor in Phillipsburg, the timber frame home stood firm on an exposed cliff and weathered the onslaught from Irma while other homes in the area were simply blown away.
The connections made between the resources, community, craft and landscape are essential hallmarks of Rick Paid’s vision for a sustainable and thoughtful relationship with the built and natural environments — they are the genesis of Amazon Timber Frames’ philosophy. The resulting homes are as exceptional as the land from which they were born.
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