Every component used in the production of WaterRower and NOHrD wooden fitness equipment comes from the lush green forests of the Appalachian Mountains in North America. By applying responsible forestry practices to sustainably harvest wood, it means that for every Appalachian tree cut to make our products there are 2.5 more trees, and we intend to keep it that way.
Appalachia has always been important to us.
The original concept of marking out hiking trails along their peaks was invented almost a century ago by the planner, forester and specific social reformer Benton MacKaye. It was a wildly ambitious plan to reorganize the economic geography of this barren area of the eastern United States through a combination of leisure, industry, and forest protection. The plan - so radical MacKaye himself feared it would be rejected as Bolshevik, he said.
Today, the region looks like a well-cultivated garden, reminiscent of the low ranges of the Russian Urals or the Ghats of India. The Appalachian Mountains are a strip of dense forest and lush green plains stretching across 14 states from Georgia to New York.
The trail built by MacKaye remains the longest path in the world, spanning 2,190 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. In love with itinerant folklore, thousands of tourists come every spring to travel the distance, creating a fascinating subculture along the way. Walkers are said to leave messages for each other on the trail and enjoy growing camaraderie as you get closer to Katahdin.
A thriving, responsible timber trade has also taken root in earnest and is valued for producing some of the world's best responsibly grown and harvested hardwoods. After kiln drying and processing, the wood that grows here is praised for its extraordinary strength, durability and grain characteristics, unique to the region.
In the north and at higher altitudes, the mountains are covered with a dark, moist, evergreen spruce and fir forest. While further south, in the lower clearings, a more open mix of deciduous trees, including the ash, oak, cherry and walnut varieties we have been producing our products for the last 30 years, prevail.
The special qualities of the hardwood grown in this region result from the unique ecology of the Appalachian Mountains. The pleasant mixture of nutrient-rich soil, ideal year-round temperatures and excellent levels of moisture ensure particularly fertile soil for the trees. Idyllic conditions keep the wood fibers to grow long and strong, creating rich colors and distinctive grain patterns.
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In keeping with MacKaye's spirit, protecting this oasis while supporting the burgeoning timber trade in the region has always been important to WaterRower. The Appalachian Hardwood Producers' Association (AHMI), of which our suppliers are members, is one of the few such associations with a division dedicated to forestry, healthy forestry development and wildlife conservation. AHMI members have educated landowners and the public about healthy forestry practices and sustainable harvesting since its inception in the 1940s.
In practice, this means that for every tree cut down in Appalachia to make our products, 2.5 trees more are grown, thanks in part to modern forest management techniques used by our responsible suppliers.
A billion trees have been planted in the region since 2007, and 300,000 acres of Appalachian forest have been afforested in the past 25 years. That's almost 33 acres a day. In other words, no more wood is needed for WaterRower to grow back in the mountains every second.
We hope that our products, cut from these wonderful deciduous trees growing in the majestic Appalachians, reflect their noble heritage. By responsibly collecting the abundant fruits of the Appalachian forest, we have been able to build beautiful fitness equipment that will last a lifetime while ensuring the future of these unique trees for others.
Benton MacKaye would be proud.