Vanderwell’s future as a dimensional lumber manufacturing company is dependent on our practice of sustainable forest management and good forest protection. We will maintain a renewable forest resource through our commitment to these three guiding principles:

  • Sound forest resource management.
  • Environmental protection and stewardship.
  • Full utilization of the forest resource.

Families & Communities

We love being able to take part in projects that benefit our surrounding local communities and their families. That’s why Vanderwell has helped out when we can since the beginning. The Vanderwell Heritage Place Lodge, Habitat for Humanity, Wabasca community, and the Amber Valley Heritage Site are just a few of the ways that Vanderwell has shown the commitment we have to our communities. And of course, Vanderwell has made numerous donations over the years of our specialty…lumber!


Over the years Vanderwell has implemented numerous innovations throughout our facility; we’re always looking for ways to be as efficient as possible! Our sawmill is continually upgraded with the most up to date technology.  As a result we’re able to achieve one of the highest utilization standards in the industry. We utilize all our waste material by producing chips, shavings, and pellets.

Being Progressive

Here at Vanderwell we feel it is important to be progressive and we do so by always having the finest, up to date facilities that ensure only the best quality for all of our products. Some of these include our overhead crane and our automated grading system.


Our employees are our most valuable resource; without them we wouldn’t be where we are today. We do our best to ensure that our employees are well taken care of. Vanderwell offers health and dental benefits to help with personal costs as well as optional RSP plans to help our employees plan for their future. Most importantly, we have many policies in place to ensure that we have the safest work environment possible.

Renewable Resources

Here at Vanderwell we make practicing Sustainable Forest Management a top priority! Immediately after harvesting, we reforest all cut blocks so there is no shortage of wood supply for future generations. We also utilize and reforest the areas that have been destroyed by wild fires in our surrounding communities.

More Information

The purpose of the information package is to describe Vanderwell Contractors (1971) Ltd.’s five-year General Development Plan (GDP).  This includes proposed activities, locations of activities, and potential impacts to the other resource users.

Click here to view our GDP

Click here to view our GDP Map

Vanderwell Contractors (1971) Ltd. operates on crown land in the province of Alberta and as such assumes all reforestation obligations associated with their harvest operations and approved Forest Management Plans. Once an area is harvested the company is regulated by law to reforest the area promptly and ensure that the reforestation work is successful within 8 years (establishment) of initial harvest and that the forest is growing at or above projections 12 to 14 years (performance) into the future. The company has been involved in reforestation work in the area for more than 20 years and has a proven record of meeting and exceeding all standards. Over the past 5 years the company has reforested more than 9,000 hectares and planted more than 10 million seedlings. Over the same period, we have monitored and measured our past work and we meet the standards of establishment 99% of the time.  We also meet or exceed all performance standards set out in our approved Forest Management Plans and provincial regulations

In 1996 the company commenced the establishment of a long term private land wood lot program. The private land is managed on a sustainable basis for timber production to assist in supporting the company’s manufacturing facility.

A detailed forest management plan has been developed separately for this private land and a sustainable, allowable cut has been established for both coniferous and deciduous timber.

To support sustainability, all areas harvested have been reforested and, to date, 2,600 hectares of coniferous plantations have been established and an additional 1,300 hectares of deciduous natural reforestation has been established.


Vanderwell Contractors has a reputation of excellent utilization of the timber resource and the production of dimension lumber is the main objective of our manufacturing facility. In addition to lumber production, all of the residual biomass is utilized to produce new products or transported to other facilities for the production of added value products. Presently softwood chips are produced and sent to pulp companies for the production of pulp. Bark (or hog fuel) is sent to pulp mills for the production of electricity. All dried shavings are bagged and used for livestock bedding, and sawdust is processed into wood pellets which are used for heat and power.

Occupational Health and Safety

Vanderwell Contractors (1971) Ltd. is committed to the health and safety of all of its employees, contractors and visitors. The company has developed and implemented a safety management system recognized by the Alberta Forest Products Association, Alberta Occupational Health and Safety, The Alberta Workers Compensation Board, and holds a Certificate of Recognition (COR) under the Provincial Government’s “Partners in Injury Reduction Program”.

Sales and Transportation of Products

The company sales representative markets all lumber, wood pellet, and bagged shavings sales to the wholesale or direct marketplace.

All lumber, bagged shavings and wood pellet sales are FOB mill. The sales representative administers transportation of these products through the use of Vanderwell’s truck-fleet, CN rail or the customers own freight.

All chip and hog products are transported under contract using Vanderwell’s own truck-fleet.

In 2014 the “Sawmill Code of Practices” legislated that all teepee burners be eliminated. Up to this point the company either incinerated their bark (hog fuel) or sold it off site.

Due to the amount of hog fuel that the company was producing (approximately 40,000mt/year), the only option was to continue selling the product to pulp mills for power production.  Other options such as stock piling was rejected due to methane gas or fire problems from spontaneous combustion.  Regulations did not allow for burning.

After lengthy economic review and touring other facilities, the company decided to go ahead with the bio-mass facility.


The existing bio-mass facility is 80% complete, with all ATCO connections to the grid completed with the exception of the final hookups to the bio-mass facility.

“The Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) is a unique certification system designed for woody biomass, mostly in the form of wood pellets and wood chips, used in industrial, large-scale energy production.”

Vanderwell Contractors (1971) Ltd. have been in the business of producing wood pellets for the home heating and other markets since 2001. We are pleased to be a part of the new and growing Sustainable Biomass Program as it aligns with our company values and our commitment to Sustainable Forest Management. In late 2018, Vanderwell was certified to SBP standards 2, 4 and 5. As part of the certification process Vanderwell completed a Supply Base Report (SBR) which we are making publicly available here. This SBR has been updated to the new standard template and is available here: SBR (PDF)

For more information about the SBP please visit their website at

Chain of Custody

Customers, stakeholders and the general public want assurances the forests we work in and source fiber from are managed sustainably.  Vanderwell is committed to ensure our operations track certified wood products (controlled wood) through the scope of our operations utilizing our Chain of Custody procedure in accordance with the PEFC ST 2002:2013 Chain of Custody Standard. This commitment and process shall provide our customers with the knowledge that they are receiving products from their claimed origin. Vanderwell is Chain of Custody certified to the Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) CoC Standard. More information regarding PEFC and their standard can be found at

Click here to view our PEFC Chain of Custody Certificate

Third Party Forest Management Certification

At Vanderwell Contractors (1971) Ltd. we have a long history of managing forests to consider all forest values. The SFI Forest Management Standard complements and reinforces our efforts in so many ways, ranging from conserving biodiversity to engaging communities.

Certifying to the SFI Forest Management and Fiber Sourcing Standard, Vanderwell demonstrates our commitment to sustainable forest management. We are proud to be part of one of the world’s leading forest certification programs.

The SFI Forest Management Standard promotes sustainable forestry practices based on 13 Principles, 15 Objectives, 37 Performance Measures and 101 Indicators. These requirements include measures to protect water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, species at risk and forests with exceptional conservation value. The standard applies to any organization in the United States or Canada that owns or manages forestlands. These organizations must continually evaluate habitat and biodiversity impacts from forest activities — which leads to improved habitat quality, and protection of imperiled or critically imperiled species. The Forest Management Standard is also the only standard that requires participants to support forestry research.

As part of its certification, Vanderwell will be required to undergo annual surveillance audits as well as full certification to the SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard every five years. The audits are conducted by an independent, accredited certification body, and audit summaries are posted on the SFI website at

About the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc.
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) stands for future forests. SFI® is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting forest sustainability and supporting the links between sustainable forests and communities through grant programs, carefully targeted research, direct leadership of critical initiatives, and partnerships that effectively contribute to multiple conservation objectives. Forests certified to the SFI Forest Management Standard cover more than 280 million acres/113 million hectares. Millions more acres/hectares benefit from the SFI Fiber Sourcing Standard. SFI’s Forest Management, Fiber Sourcing and Chain of Custody Standards work to ensure the health and future of forests. Through application of these certification standards, SFI’s on-product labels help consumers make responsible purchasing decisions. SFI Inc. is governed by a three-chamber board of directors representing environmental, social and economic sectors equally. Learn more at

Click here to view our SFI Certificate

Vanderwell Contractors (1971) Ltd.
Sustainable Forest Management & Environmental Policy
(SFI 2015-2019) – Woodlands Operations

We are committed to responsible stewardship of the forest and the environment throughout our operations.
In conducting our business, we are committed to:
• practice Sustainable Forestry which ensures forest productivity and health;
• protect the water resources, biological diversity, special sites, and aesthetic values of the forests under our management;
• recognize and respect the rights of indigenous people;
• maintain our infrastructure of roads as per our plans to allow for the public access to the forest resources and recreational opportunities;
• meet or exceed all applicable environmental and social laws, regulations, policies, and other pertinent requirements;
• minimize adverse environmental impacts and striving to prevent pollution;
• promote Sustainable Forest Management awareness throughout our operations;
• monitor our Sustainable Forest Management performance by regularly reviewing our activities, practices, performance measures, and indicators;
• provide training for our employees and contractors in environmentally responsible work practices;
• broaden the practice of sustainable forestry on public lands through community involvement.
• support advances in sustainable forest management through forestry research, science and technology; and
• Continually improve the practice of forest management and monitor, measure, and report performance publicly in achieving the commitment to sustainable forestry.

University of Alberta Forest Industry Lecture Series

Climate change, global competition and evolving public attitudes create both challenges and opportunities in the boreal forest. Dr. David Martell explains how we can meet these challenges and enjoy the opportunities, while avoiding threats to public safety, property and our ecological resources.


A national campaign to increase the use of wood in commercial, industrial and institutional construction. In North America, this market for wood is valued at $20 billion US.

Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory

LSLBO’s Mission is to: “Gain knowledge, understanding and appreciation of boreal birds by monitoring their populations and participating in research; to produce scientifically defensible data; to deliver education programs that foster appreciation of birds and their habitat needs; and to generate awareness/support of the LSLBO within the Lesser Slave Lake region and throughout Canada.”

Lesser Slave Lake Forest Education Society

The LSLFES is committed to forest focused environmental education and is led by a dedicated group of volunteer representatives from industry, schools and government who share a common goal of environmental stewardship.

Town of Slave Lake Legacy Center

The Slave Lake Legacy Centre is the home of the Slave Lake Child Care Society (daycare) and the Slave Lake Elks Lodge No. 379.  It houses a beautiful performing arts theatre and community hall, a FireSmart interpretive area, a First Nation cultural area, and serves as an evacuation center for the region.

Our Partnerships

The Forest companies in the lesser Slave Region (Vanderwell, West Fraser and Tolko) are working on their new Forest Management Plan. The Lesser Slave Lake Regional Forest Management Plan is a roadmap for forest use and sustainability in the Slave Lake region. The plan is due for submission in 2020 and approval in 2021, and will apply to the region for the following ten years. Slave Lake area forest products companies are jointly developing the plan, creating shared goals, standards, and objectives. The success of the plan and the strength of these objectives depends on public input. The companies welcome and are seeking public input into the plan. Together, we can create a sustainable, multi-purpose forest in the Slave Lake region.

Check out the website and learn more: