FOLLOWING the cancellation of the Royal Welsh Show for the second year running, it was decided the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society (RWAS) Woodlands Competition should go ahead, with social distancing easy for judges in the outdoors.

This late decision did coincide with an exceptionally busy spring for foresters in North Wales (the area for entries in 2021), so entries were down, with 28 stand-class entries overall. Prizes were duly presented at the showground in September.

Judges were particularly impressed with the quality of reestablishment in the plantation entries, including Llandegla, Hafodunas, Cwm, and Hafod Boeth, all exhibiting superb growth in their early years, largely achieved with improved SS stock. Bryn Haul excelled again as a wellmanaged and productive small broadleaf woodland, winning both the Milford Silver medal and the RFS Gold medal certificate, for Ruth Pybus and David Brown.

The varied and interesting plantation Hafod Boeth in the centre of the Snowdonia National Park won the EFG Perpetual challenge trophy for Giles Keating, now appropriately managed by EFG’s successors Tilhill.

Coed Llandegla won a number of stand prizes to take the Charles Shakerley Cup as well as the Williams-Ellis Cup, for owners the Church Commissioners for England, with manager Simon Miller for Tilhill being awarded the magnificent ICF Challenge Trophy, as well as a number of gold medal stand certificates for several other entries. This true multi-purpose forest has so much to offer the industry and is now well into its second rotation restructuring, but also caters for over 100,000 visitors a year, mostly for the mountain bike trails.

Hafodunas is an almost unique farmforestry development from the ‘50/’60s plantings, now also well into a second rotation with progressive replanting in progress. If only more Welsh farmers could see and copy this fine example of multiland use in the uplands. The work done here ensured Scottish Woodlands manager Charles Gittins won the Wilson Memorial Shield. Cwm woodlands also scored well.

Perhaps a notable absentee entrant was Natural Resources Wales, and we must hope they re-enter the competition next year for South-West Wales woodlands. But overall it was a most satisfactory outcome undertaken in difficult circumstances, and showing the health and productivity of woodland ownership in Wales.

Timothy Kirk