ONE of the leading figures in the restoration of Britain's natural environment has paid tribute to others after he was recognised in the King's Birthday Honours. 

Gareth Browning, 57, is to be made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to Forestry and Nature Recovery.

He is the visionary and practical driving force behind the Wild Ennerdale Project for the Forestry Commission, which was formally declared a National Nature Reserve in 2022. By defying the convention of the time, he led efforts to transform land management on the 3,000-hectare Lake District site. 

READ MORE: Forester's six decades of woodland care honoured by the King

A big advocate for continuous-cover forestry (CCF) and woodland thinning, Gareth's efforts — far ahead of the current rewilding trend – have seen a number of species reintroduced to Ennerdale since the turn of the Millennium, working alongside partners such as the National Trust and United Utilities. 

The Forestry England area forester said: “I'm blown away by the honour, it is such a surprise I'm still getting used to the idea. I thought it was a scam at first when I received the email, but I am glad I checked it again. 

"It's been a real privilege to be able to look after the Ennerdale valley with our partners in Wild Ennerdale. 

"Ennerdale has been a real inspiration to me and I'm humbled by the thought that others think I'm worthy of such an honour. I don’t know if other partners have received similar awards but would love it if there could be a group MBE award." 

Elsewhere, forest craftsperson Lawrence Langton was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to the industry in the King's Birthday Honours

Having entered forestry as part of a gang in Laughton Forest in 1978, he has since played his part in planting trees and creating woodlands, including a Millennium Wood in 2000. Lawrence also helped restore and develop the Lincolnshire Lime Woods, which date back to the 11th century. 

Forestry Journal: Lawrence Langton was also honoured Lawrence Langton was also honoured (Image: Supplied)

Lawrence, 61, said: “I was completely shocked when the letter arrived saying I had the honour." 

Other forestry-related figures to receive honours include OBEs for Jon Covey, tree nursery manager, trustee and treasurer, of the Moors Trees Charity, which is working to restore woodland in Dartmoor, and Geoffrey Cole, who was chairman of Birmingham Trees for Life.