Last month, competitors travelled to Mid Wales to take part in the 33rd annual Royal Welsh Agricultural Society Tree Felling Competition. The resultant contest provided a heart-stopping spectacle for all felling fans.

THE Royal Welsh Tree Felling Competition is an annual event hosted by the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, with a committee of 12 individuals, prominent within the Welsh forest industry, taking lead to organise and administrate it each year.

Commencing in 1990, but not held in 2001 because of the foot and mouth epidemic, the competition has been held at different forest locations throughout Wales, showcasing the quality of forestry environments across the country. Prior to 1990, a felling event was held on the showground in Llanelwedd during the ‘Royal Welsh’ week. With increasing requirements for what we now know as PPE, health and safety and demonstrable competency (i.e. certification), the decision was taken in 1989 to move the competition into the forest, to be able to demonstrate the competency of the competitors going forward, within the environment in which they are used to working. 

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Over the years the competition has become more aligned with the rules for the World Logging Championships. However, the Royal Welsh Competition retains its own unique requirement, which is the felling and snedding (removing the branches) of an actual standing tree; a requirement the competitors all look forward to.

Forestry Journal: All competitors, judges and stewards.All competitors, judges and stewards. (Image: Supplied)

Due to its popularity with chainsaw operators across the country, the event now takes place over two days and consists of five disciplines all relating to standard chainsaw felling and the safe and efficient processing of a tree, as undertaken by a forest worker during their normal working day. 

They are: fitting a new chain, accurately crosscutting a log held in a stand, accurately crosscutting a log on the floor, felling a tree and snedding the stem. These disciplines are against the clock and are judged and scored in accordance with the tree-felling regulations. 

Forestry Journal: Gethin HughesGethin Hughes (Image: Supplied)

Every discipline needs a judge and steward as support. The competition would not continue without the help of the team of volunteer judges and stewards who work hard every year to ensure the competition runs smoothly. There are three individuals who have been with the competition from the start; Brian Barker, George Johnson and Richard Siddons. 

The competition this year took place at Hafod y Foel, near Talerddig, in Powys, on 8 and 9 July. The forestry site was kindly provided by Kronospan and Pryor & Rickett Silviculture, which have been supporters of the competition for several years. With recent advancements in technology, it was decided that a separate battery chainsaw section would be introduced this year, meaning there were four separate sections that competitors could apply to: previous competitor over 25 years, previous competitor 24 years and under, newcomer and battery.

Forestry Journal: Marius BuhusanuMarius Buhusanu (Image: Supplied)

Over recent years the popularity of the Welsh competition has gone from strength to strength, with entries from all over the UK, and now Europe. This year there were 11 previous competitors over 25, three previous competitors 24 and under, five newcomers and five battery competitors. Of these 21 applicants, the competition welcomed two competitors from Romania, one from Ireland, nine from England and nine from Wales.

The future of the competition looks bright, with increasing emphasis on the role of the forests and woodlands in Wales and the need for a highly skilled and safe workforce to manage and maintain them. All competitors who take part in these competitions use the skills they learn to compete in the differing disciplines to enhance their quality of work, and the safe way they conduct themselves, out in the forest.

Forestry Journal: Dewi WilliamsDewi Williams (Image: Supplied)

The winners of the 2023 competition were Mark Edwards (previous over 25), Adrigh Cole (previous 24 and under), Marius Buhusanu (newcomer) and Gethin Hughes (battery).

For information and scores of the other competitors please visit the competition section of the RWAS website or follow the social media pages of the RWAS Tree Felling Competition.