The Royal Welsh Agricultural Society has played a leading role in the development of agriculture and the rural economy in Wales for over a century, since its formation in 1904.
Today our work includes providing support for business, social welfare and education in rural communities, and the organisation and staging of our ever-popular society events; the Smallholding and Countryside Festival, the Royal Welsh Show and the Winter Fair.
On Saturday 19th September 11 competitors traveled to Mid-Wales to take part in the annual Royal Welsh Agricultural Society Felling competition which celebrates its 30th year!
The RWAS Felling Competition 2020 is the 30th year of the competition held in the forests and woodlands of Wales. Commencing in 1990 and not held in 2001 because of the foot and mouth epidemic, the competition is usually held on a different location and has therefore ranged far and wide, although mainly around Mid Wales. Prior to this a competition was held on the Showground during Royal Welsh Week. With increasing requirements for what we now know as PPE and demonstrable competency i.e. certification, the decision was taken in 1989 to move the competition into the woodlands. 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 delimbing of the felled tree (snedding.) A requirement that the competitors look forward to.
The first competition in 1990 took place at Cwmysgawen, Coed Sarnau Forest, near Abbey-cwm-hir. The winner of this first competition was Paul Lloyd, from Llanidloes who was a timber harvesting contractor.
It is an annual competition and today usually takes place over 2 days and consists of 5 disciplines. Although due to reduced numbers in 2020 (the impact of COVID-19,) we were able to run the competition over a day. The disciplines that all relate to chainsaw felling and processing of a tree performed by a forest worker during a working day: Fitting a new chain, accurately crosscutting a log that is on the floor, felling a tree and snedding (removing the branches). All events are against the clock. The disciplines are judged and scored in accordance with the tree felling regulations. If you would like to learn more about the disciplines used by the competition click on the following link: www.ukloggers.co.uk
Over the years the popularity of the competition has varied but entries have been excellent in recent years, with competitors coming from all over the UK. Every discipline needs a judge and steward so we could not continue without the help of our team of volunteer judges and stewards. There are three who have been with the competition from the start, Brian Barker, George Johnson and Richard Siddons. The future of the competition looks bright, with increasing emphasis on the role of woodlands in Wales and the need for highly skilled workforce to manage them.
The winner of the 2020 competition is Gethin Hughes, a harvesting contractor from Rhiw, Pwllheli, Gwynedd. For information and scores of the other competitors please contact the Society.