The forestry industry has impacted Alberta’s growth and success for over 100 years, and that influence continues today.
Last year, the industry’s Alberta Forest Products Association (AFPA) released a study – the Economic Impact Report, that revealed our industry alone generates $13.6 billion in provincial economic activity and another $2.7 billion in labour income. Additionally, there’s another 30,000 Albertans working for small and medium-sized spin-off businesses that depend on the forestry industry for their livelihoods.
In Alberta, Vanderwell operates in the “green zone” region that has 57% of the province’s forestry operations, stretching across the Athabasca-Grande Prairie-Peace River districts. In 2020, this region generated $4.3 billion in economic output, with other areas profiting. The regions around Calgary and Edmonton also received substantial economic benefits supporting forestry operations.
Everyone agrees that the resource sector, which includes the forestry industry, has helped Alberta become the economic powerhouse it is today. Yet, if there’s one thing that has changed over the decades, it’s how Vanderwell, and our industry, measure success. Yes, staying profitable means we remain in business, but that’s not enough.
Sustainable forest management might sound like a buzz phrase, as businesses everywhere are using the word “sustainable” – but at Vanderwell, we hope our actions prove we take it seriously. The bottom line is that we do everything possible to ensure the forests we depend on remain healthy and are there for future generations.
Most of the forests harvested by Vanderwell are on Crown land owned by the Province of Alberta. For the right to operate on these lands, we provide detailed, multi-year Forest Management Plans. These plans clearly state what actions Vanderwell will take to protect the environment and reforest the harvested areas. For example, that means promptly reforesting any areas the company harvests and then monitoring those areas to ensure the forest is re-established.
At Vanderwell, we are exploring projects that contribute to positive climate change, waste reduction, creating renewable energy sources, and reducing our overall environmental impact.
Right now, we’re continuing to work with Calgary-based Expander Energy who are looking to use our sawmill and forestry waste in a first-in-Canada plant that would initially produce about 8 million litres of low-carbon intensity, clean-burning synthetic diesel fuel annually.
We are also performing the economic feasibility study of completing our on-site Combined Heat & Power facility, which has been on hold for several years. Today’s high utility costs potentially make the completion of this project a good business decision.
As we move into a New Year, all of North America’s forestry industry is in a slump. The great prices for lumber that we enjoyed during Covid are no more. But market downturns are nothing new for our business; it’s something all resource-driven industries encounter.
At Vanderwell, our focus is on the future – Putting in place the technologies that will enhance our competitive position and continually looking for opportunities that will further build our reputation as responsible stewards of the forests and environment we rely on for our business.