The APF Exhibition is the UK’s largest forestry, woodland, arboriculture, firewood, fencing, trees and timber trade show. As organisation continues for APF 2024, its exhibition secretary offers Forestry Journal readers an exclusive insight into how preparations are coming along.

IT is quite scary when I sit down to write these monthly diaries how fast APF 2024 seems to be approaching.

There is a definite sense of anticipation building. We are receiving exhibitor booking forms on a daily basis and we went past the 200th exhibitor booking in early April, so are well on our way to the 300 we had at APF 2022.

As I suggested last month, we can now confirm that the UK Forwarder Driving Championships will be returning this year. Many thanks to Richard Court Engineering and Coombe Forestry for agreeing to take on the role of organisers. At previous events the competition has been confined to a relatively small 40 x 30 m arena. This year they have a 90 x 60 m arena to work with, which is on a slope so you can look forward to a challenging and exciting course and great spectator visibility.

Our other event news is that the large, old oak tree we are planning to use for our tree-climbing competition has now had a full climbing survey carried out and has been declared safe and fit for purpose. Many thanks to John Trenchard for carrying out the survey and for organising and running the competition for us. Look out for entry forms shortly.

It will be a fast-and-furious climb against the clock, with pairs of climbers working on a tag system. Talk to your climbing colleagues now about forming a tag team to compete. There will be some great cash and equipment prizes from Teufelberger on offer.

We have confirmed the have-a-go climbing area. For anyone interested in trying their hand at ascending into a tree using a rope and harness, you will be able to try this out under expert instruction. As part of our forestry and arb careers initiative, run in conjunction with the Royal Forestry Society, this will be an opportunity for our organised school parties to try this out. Experts will also be able to answer your tree-climbing queries on the Lantra demo stand in the woodland.

We had nearly 40 entries for our European chainsaw carving competition. With only 25 places available this made choosing the successful 25 hard and we had to consider past performances at the competition and look at other sculptures they had produced. The result is a stellar line-up. We have five previous winners taking part. If any of you watched the Cut Above carving competition on Sky TV last year, we have three of the top four competitors taking part in Sam Bowsher, Chris Wood and Sylvia Itzen. We have some new exciting talent from Europe as well. With the large-dimension redwood timber sourced from Longleat, this is going to be a fantastic competition.

One of the recurring comments we have had in the past is a problem with the mobile phone signal on site. Normally this is fine on site with good 4G connectivity. However, during the event, with so many visitors in a small area wanting a piece of a finite pie, connectivity has been a problem. Some exhibitors had problems using their credit card machines as the system prioritises voice calls over data. We do listen to feedback and approached both Vodafone and EE about the possibility of providing temporary masts for the event. This was a tortuous process, simply finding out who to contact. To cut a long story short, they tell us they have committed their budget for this year and if we want temporary masts it will cost us about £40–50,000! Needless to say this is way beyond our means, but we did try. The good news is that we will have two free Wi-Fi hotspots at our main catering areas.


All our main infrastructure is in the final stages of being ordered. Our APF team has been sorted out and contracts sent out.

We have just one remaining exhibitor site meeting left, on Wednesday, 19 June at 2pm at Kings Court Hotel, Alcester, B49 5QQ. This an opportunity for exhibitors to visit the site, talk to our team and choose their stand. Even now there are very few demo sites left.

Greg Cole, our new safety officer, and Eric Boyd, our assistant safety officer, have been busy checking our team’s training qualifications and organising training where required for a wide range of skills including first aid, forklift refresher training, ATV driving and traffic marshalling.

Our traffic maestro, Tony Wall, has been liaising with a wide range of authorities to agree our traffic plan and sort out signage. Conversations have been had with the local council about the state of part of one of our access roads and the need to sort out the potholes. Most of you will be aware that the state of Britain’s roads is a hot topic at the moment and council budgets are tight so work has to be prioritised. However, I am pleased to say that the council has been co-operative and some road work has commenced.

Ticket and camping sales are very good as the excitement builds, so please book early, especially camping. In 2022 we had to close campsite bookings at the beginning of September when we sold out. We have increased capacity this year, but cannot promise space if you have not pre-booked.

See you all next month!