The APF Exhibition is the UK’s largest forestry, woodland, arboriculture, fencing and biomass show. Here, exhibition secretary Ian Millward offers an insight into how preparations are coming along for APF 2022.

LAST month’s announcement that the ARB Show is joining forces with us, the increasing sense we are finally moving beyond COVID and the fact most restrictions look to be removed completely (in England anyway) by the end of February have meant the last few weeks have been very busy in the office. Exhibitor bookings have begun to flood in and we have passed the 200-exhibitor mark (special welcome to Woodland Mills who took us over the line). The surge in exhibitor bookings has been matched by healthy advanced ticket and camping sales. There is a tangible feeling of excitement within our team and from the wider industry about the show.

February 16 saw us hold another of our exhibitor site meetings, an opportunity for would-be exhibitors to come along, receive our site and safety briefing and then go onto site to select their stand. It was very well attended with around 40 people present, some looking to book a site for the first time, others to refresh their memory of the site they originally booked way back in 2019, plus a team from the ARB Show and several sponsors looking to discuss their plans.

READ MORE: APF's exhibition secretary Ian Millward on 2022's Arb Show merger

As I outlined last month, one of the new features for the event will be the UK Open Tree Climbing competition. We are working with the ARB Show and Honey Bros on this. One of the key (and rather obvious) points to consider is whether we actually have suitable trees to use. Previous to the meeting, all they had to go on were some photos I sent – not ideal. I was a little concerned that after all the promotion I had given the new competition they would tell me that the trees were no use. My background is forestry, not tree climbing! Fortunately, the trees were deemed okay.

We were lucky enough to have Ragley’s consultant forester and ex-APF demo director Mike Box on hand to answer queries about what we could and couldn’t do with the trees.

This went better than expected, with Mike even marking some trees that were due to be thinned for felling. This now opens the possibility of daily demos showing the use of a crane for dismantling. Spectator access and visibility of the climbing area are excellent.

We are now working to finalise a list of the competitions we will be staging. Rest assured there will be something for all levels of ability, from expert to novice. Never tried sport climbing before? Then we hope to hold master classes on site from industry experts to show you what’s involved. The team from Husqvarna were at the meeting to look at their arena and discuss the world 25 m pole-climbing competition with our climbing organiser Terry Bennett. He was also able to check over the climbing poles and deem they were in a good state to be used again. 

Forestry Journal: A site meeting was held last month A site meeting was held last month

For the tree- and pole-climbing competitions we hope to have rules, entry forms and prize lists available very soon. Keep checking the competitions area of our website and follow us on our social media for updates. Demand for places is likely to be very high, so don’t leave it too late.

The Arb Worker Zone is going to be a big draw. We are talking to the big players about putting on technical demos. If you have any bright ideas of what you would like to see covered please let us know, whether it is a reminder of how to re-tension a recoil starter, identifying saw chain, key maintenance tips for your new saw or how to use a new bit of climbing kit.  

As I write, two major storms are running riot through the country again, with dreadful pictures of fallen trees blocking roads and railways and devastated forests. With my ever-optimistic hat on I wondered if these storms had brought down any giant redwood.

For the A W Jenkinson and Tilhill European Chainsaw Carving competition, we need 25 large-dimension 2 m x 1 m diameter logs. The carvers love redwood, so this is our first choice, but it is hard to find supplies of it. Large-dimension Douglas fir or western red cedar would also be good. If you know of any such dimension timber, especially redwood, we would be delighted to hear from you.

READ MORE: Arb Show 2022 to take place during APF making it largest ever UK forestry event

In previous diaries I used to have a ‘Wally of the Month Award’. After our site meeting yesterday, I think I need to reinstate this. A very well-known sawmill machine company, which shall remain nameless, ignored the very last words at our meeting warning them not to leave the hard road on site because the fields were very wet. Not only did they ignore that, but decided that driving 20 m into the field aiming for a pool of standing water would be a good idea. The result was inevitable – muppets!