With a dedicated area and plenty more beyond that, those looking for their forestry fix found it in ample supply at this year’s Royal Welsh Show. 

EVEN at this stage of show season, there’s always something new to be found when forestry’s biggest names roll into town. And so it proved at this week's Royal Welsh Show, which also placed some of the industry’s lesser known brands under the spotlight.

Ponsse and John Deere were the obvious draws of a forestry section that was characterised by its variety. From dealer DA Hughes and its GB Harvester Bars, to the Royal Forestry Society, Flintshire Woodlands, and Confor’s impressive-looking stand, guests certainly couldn’t complain about the scope of what was on offer.

And while there were some grumbles from a few exhibitors about just how successful the show had been in terms of sales (always the risk at public-heavy events), on the whole most appeared very pleased with how the week had gone.

“It has been a fantastic few days,” Gethin Hughes, of training provider Mwmac, said. With a range of stations on its stand, all designed to show possible safety scenarios, the main draw was a winch tied to a Dyneema Rope and attached to a tree, replicating an assisted felling.

Forestry Journal: Victoria Laurie and Gethin Hughes on Mwmac's standVictoria Laurie and Gethin Hughes on Mwmac's stand (Image: FJ/Jack Haugh)

Gethin added: “There is a growing demand for the training of these sorts of skills. We want to pull people in to have discussions about why these skills are used.

“Assisted fell is one of those underestimated things that everyone does, but the question is: ‘Are we doing it correctly?’”

Oxdale Products is a brand many will recognise from this year’s show season, and once again it had brought along a mix of machines. This included its PTO400 Log Splitter, several log cleaners and Del Morino chippers.

“All our log splitters are made in the UK,” said sales and dealer development manager, Philip Shufflebottom. “Everything from the tables to the powder coating is done by us. They are very simple machines; they don’t need anyone technical to use them. They are very reliable.

Forestry Journal: Oxdale Products' Philip ShufflebottomOxdale Products' Philip Shufflebottom (Image: FJ/Jack Haugh)

“We have people coming onto the stand, using machines they bought 12 years ago. Our machines aren’t two-year machines; they are long-lasting products.”

For some, the show will have been the first chance they had had to see Ifor Williams’ log splitting trailer. On the market for around 18 months, it is powered by a Honda engine, features a 25-tonne hydraulic ram, and can split logs of up to 600 mm in length. One of its great selling points is that it can be run vertically or horizontally. It certainly attracted plenty of attention across the show’s four days, splitting wood with ease.

Forestry Journal: The show was the first time many had the chance to see Ifor Williams' Log Splitter trailer in the fleshThe show was the first time many had the chance to see Ifor Williams' Log Splitter trailer in the flesh (Image: FJ/Jack Haugh)

To find Ifor Williams’ busy stand you had to wander beyond the forestry section, but don’t let that fool you – there was still plenty of relevant kit to see. Whether that be Bobcat’s range of machinery, Suzuki’s utility vehicles, or even venison biltong (described as “delicious” by FJ’s John McNee), just about every base was covered, and, like every show, it was really only possible to see a sliver of the action in any great detail.

Forestry Journal: A forestry area offered some of the more traditional elements of forestry A forestry area offered some of the more traditional elements of forestry (Image: FJ/Jack Haugh)

Perfectly placed to catch the eye of guests was the Fitzgerald Plant Services stand, which featured a selection of the dealer’s Sany excavators. Having taken on that contract in 2020, the supplier has seen demand for the machines grow and grow to the point where it is generally accepted as less of the rebellious start-up it once was and instead as one of the industry’s more established names.

“The Sany name is growing,” said Lee Perry, business development manager at Fitzgerald. “The five-year warranty on every single machine is what sets Sany apart. All of the components are from names you can trust, such as Kawasaki.”

Fitzgerald, which was founded in 2007, also had plenty to celebrate after being named as stand of the show.

Forestry Journal: Lee Perry, Fitzgerald's business development managerLee Perry, Fitzgerald's business development manager (Image: FJ/Jack Haugh)

“That was lovely,” Lee added. “We are just delighted to be recognised.”

The Fitzgerald site also featured a selection of Global Machinery Sales’ products (Fitzgerald is Global’s Welsh dealer), including the Norwood HD36v2 and Bandit’s range of woodchippers.

Of course, when it comes to forestry in Wales, there’s one topic that just won’t go away; tree planting, and, specifically, on which land that woodland creation should take place.

Forestry Journal: Fuelwood was among the other major forestry brands at the showFuelwood was among the other major forestry brands at the show (Image: FJ/Jack Haugh)

With the Welsh government currently reviewing its controversial Sustainable Farming Scheme – which, in its current guise, prevents access to some grant funding unless 10 per cent of a site’s agricultural land is designated for new planting – it didn’t take long to find someone with something to say about the issue.

“In recent years, tree planting in Wales has started to become a very difficult subject both for farmers and foresters,” Confor’s outgoing national manager for Wales, Anthony Geddes, said as the show kicked off. “The development of the new Sustainable Farming Scheme proposals is intensifying this.”

Forestry Journal: Andrew Wright told all about NRW's forestry plans for the futureAndrew Wright told all about NRW's forestry plans for the future (Image: FJ/Jack Haugh)

And while Wales has been praised in some quarters for increasing its total woodland-creation rate year-on-year, forestry officials know there is still more to be done.

“It is encouraging, but there is a long way to go,” said Andrew Wright, senior specialist advisor tree health and knowledge transfer at Natural Resources Wales (NRW). “From a forestry perspective and the land that is in our care, the issue people are talking about is climate change, and the impact that will have – and what we are doing.

"We are looking to diversify our species. We won’t have one single woodlands. I am looking for the teams at NRW to bite the bullet and see how species grow on their patch.” 

Keep an eye on our channels for more coverage of the Royal Welsh Show 2023, including video interviews of some of the exhibitors.