The APF Exhibition is the UK’s largest forestry, woodland, arboriculture, fencing and biomass show. In this series, exhibition secretary Ian Millward shares how preparations are coming along for APF 2020.

WE are very aware of the current uncertainty as to whether many outside events will go ahead as planned this year, due to Covid-19 and that several have already been cancelled or postponed, including, unfortunately, the Arb Show in May.

However, APF 2020 is still going ‘full steam ahead’ towards our planned event on 24–26 September. We are still over six months away from APF 2020 and our assessment is that current restrictions and recommendations will have lifted well before then. We will, of course, continue to monitor the situation and listen to all relevant advice but APF 2020 is planned to go ahead as scheduled. We feel for the other shows as we know how much time, effort and cost go into their organisation and the potential long-term effects on their cash flow and viability.

With regard to the Arb Show, we were already working with the Arb Association to stage a new Tree Workers Zone at APF 2020. With the cancellation of their event, it also means the 3ATC UK Open Tree Climbing competition fell victim. However, we have offered to stage this during APF 2020 and will be meeting with them shortly to sort out the details. We can also promise that any exhibitor due to exhibit at the Arb Show will be able to do so at APF 2020 and guarantee they will not pay any extra for the stand than they would have at the Arb Show. Trees and arb is a small industry and we do not regard ourselves as competitors and will be working together to ensure that there is a bigger and better focus on arb at APF 2020 than ever before.

Preparation for the show continues apace and February saw our second exhibitor site meeting.  These meetings are an opportunity for exhibitors to visit the site, see the lay of the land and make sure they choose a site suitable for their needs. Exhibitors also benefit from a short briefing by our team, covering subjects like setting up and taking down, safety requirements and the availability of timber and machinery to help them set up. A site visit is a mandatory requirement for all new exhibitors wishing to book a demonstration site.

We were delighted with the turnout on the day and several more exhibitors booked spaces. As I write this in early March, we have over 170 exhibitors and 2,000 m of working demonstration space booked.

Our site layout plan is now pretty much finalised. Given that most of our site is on open grass fields, we long ago decided we cannot gamble on good weather, so the whole of the demonstration circuit and the rows of the static display area now have temporary tracking on them.

Tracking is frighteningly expensive and we use nearly two miles of it! When we held the show in Lockerbie in 2002, I remember trying to walk over the site in early September and could not do so as I sank up to the top of my wellies in the soft ground. The tracking we put down did not so much sit, but rather floated on top of the field. We had to spend over £25,000 upgrading the road through the forest to get even four-wheel-drive vehicles along it. Since then, there has never been an argument about whether we need tracking.

A question we are often asked is why most of our demonstration circuit is on grass and why we don’t have more forest or trees as part of the circuit. The answer is very simple: our exhibitors prefer open space. In the early days, most of the circuit was within forest area, but gradually we realised that fewer and fewer exhibitors actually wanted to fell trees. In fact, the trees were a real nuisance as they had to remove them or work around them to get exhibition trailers, marquees and machinery set up. We have repeatedly offered felling sites for the harvesters, but are told by the big machine companies they prefer a static site.

I can understand this. You are unlikely to spend £300,000 on a harvester based on watching it fell 10 trees at the show. You can see the latest models, get up close and personal with one, talk to the engineers on site and then go and see one working in a forest situation for a day if you want to.

February kept us busy putting flesh on the bones of all the various events we have planned. We are now open for applications to compete in the A W Jenkinson and Tilhill European Chainsaw Carving Championships. We can have a maximum of 25 competitors and are always oversubscribed.

Husqvarna is once again sponsoring the World 25 m pole-climbing championships and we will shortly be opening this up for bookings. We are proud to be hosting the British Open Fencing Championships this year, sponsored by McVeigh Parker. Two-man teams are now invited to apply.

Forestry Journal:

We had a very productive meeting with the Arboricultural Association recently and will shortly be announcing some new and exciting events for 2020. We are also working hard to stage a tree-climbing competition. For those of you struggling with the new HSE rules on the use of a two-anchor-point climbing system, LANTRA will be demonstrating how to comply with this and the Arb Association hopes to have its new code of practice available.

We are working with the Forestry Commission and Confor to put on some short, topical seminars on subjects such as plant health, forest carbon and the government’s tree-planting strategy.

Our ‘Wally of the Month’ award this issue goes to a certain person from a large forest machine company (who shall remain nameless) who turned up for the exhibitor site meeting a week early!

To avoid any confusion, the next site meeting is at 2 pm on Wednesday, 22 April and the show dates are 24–26 September.

APF 2020 will be held at the Ragley Estate, Alcester, Warwickshire on 24–26 September 2020.

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