Nagano naturalist C.W. Nicol has been named co-winner of the Green Culture Prize for his outstanding work on woodlands restoration.

A longtime contributor to The Japan Times, Nicol received the annual award Saturday from the National Land Afforestation Promotion Organization, an affiliate of the Forestry Agency. The co-winner of the prize, awarded for outstanding efforts in greenery and forestry, was the town of Kuzumaki, Iwate Prefecture, which actively promotes green tourism.

The 75-year-old Wales native visited Japan for the first time in 1962. Fascinated by its nature, he developed a passionate interest in ecology and chose in 1980 to reside in the mountainous Kurohime area of Nagano Prefecture, where he became ardently engaged in forest restoration efforts, setting up the Afan Woodland Trust in 1986.

"He has advocated the positive effects of forestry on human body and soul, and has invited children with disabilities and scarred by abuse to the forest," the organization said in a press release. "He has also contributed to turning elementary schools damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake into 'forestry schools.'

"It is highly commendable that he has also been conveying the importance of forests through his writing and speaking engagements nationwide."