UNESCO selects Nicol woodland

by Alex Martin

The UNESCO branch in Japan announced Wednesday that writer and environmentalist C.W. Nicol’s Afan Woodland Trust has been registered as one of its “future heritage sites.”

“Project Future Heritage” by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recognizes and supports civilian efforts in conserving important cultural and natural heritage.

Nicol and his trust have been working for decades to regenerate and transform a large plot of neglected woodland it bought in Shinanomachi, Nagano Prefecture.

Through donations and other funding, the Afan trust has gradually been expanding its woodland, which currently covers 30 hectares, and has engaged in various environmental and educational activities to increase awareness of the importance of nature conservation.

Nicol, well-known in Japan as an author of numerous books and for his efforts to battle deforestation and his involvement in other environmental issues, said he and the trust were “highly chuffed” by UNESCO’s selection, and said it will help raise the profile of the woodland and their work.

“I think it will give us even more credibility when we try to make more contacts with people trying to restore woodland in other places,” he said.

Nicol said the trust’s latest project involves creating a program where quality sounds and images from the woodland can be exchanged with its twin forest, the Afan Argoed Country Park in Nicol’s native Wales.

“We want to make a program live-time for children,” he said, explaining that children from centers at both forests could use technology to communicate and exchange images and sketches of the woodlands.

Nicol’s woodland trust was one of 10 projects announced this year by UNESCO Japan as a future heritage site.