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Matt joined Forest Research in 1994 as a seed analyst following initial training as an agricultural seed analyst and crop inspector. In 2003 he transferred his skills from seeds to saplings and trees and now has a diverse portfolio ranging from large scale field trial management to knowledge exchange and botanical training. Following the discovery of Chalara ash dieback in the UK in 2012 he used these skills and experience to facilitate the establishment of a large scale mass screening trial over 14 sites in south-east England and planting 155,000 ash trees. His interaction with non-FC landowners was crucial to the success of this important and high profile trial.
His work with the National Arboreta led him to represent Forest Research in Vietnam in 2009 where he presented research on the germination of rare and endangered conifers at the Vietnam Centre for Plant Conservation, and worked with Vietnamese colleagues to collect samples of the recently discovered conifers Xanthocyparis vietnamensis and Cupressus tonkinensis from their native habitat and offer advice on their propagation.
Matt is an effective presenter and a strong teacher with a growing botanical skills base as evidenced by his role in the success of the multi-million HLF funded Westonbirt project. Positive interaction with the resident volunteer flora group led directly to successful intensive surveys of nationally important calcareous grasslands, the establishment of a rigorous monitoring protocol, and the restoration of the former car-park to grassland.
Matt works on a wide range of projects managing large scale trials investigating potential species and provenances in relation to forestry with future climate change, alternative silvicultural systems, integrated vegetation management, Chalara ash dieback tolerance in common ash, and the integrated management of the Hylobius in forests. He also provides specialist scientific and technical support to Westonbirt National Arboretum, Bedgebury Pinetum, and smaller Forestry Commission and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) arboreta in Scotland, Wales, and England. He is the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland joint referee for conifers, and sits on their committee for Scotland.
The pearl-bordered fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne) is a resident UK butterfly which is in decline, partly because grasses can outcompete its preferred food plant, common dog-violet (Viola riviniana). We therefore investigated whether using graminicides could help to enhance the habitat quality of a violet-rich butterfly ride. Applications of 1.5 kg a.i. ha-1 propyzamide or 0.45 kg a.i. ha-1 cycloxydim both reduced grass cover and were associated with an increase in violet plants. Our work suggests that enhancing pearl-bordered fritillary habitat may not always be possible through herbicide use alone, but cycloxydim may have a useful role in helping to reduce competition from grasses.
Monitoring traps for the pine-tree lappet moth were tested to find the most effective trap type and colour combination for adult moth capture.
Early results of species and provenance trials established in 2012.
The ability to accurately identify tree and shrub seedlings is invaluable to anyone with an interest in forests and woodlands and it is fundamental to practical woodland management. However, identifying seedlings in their first year of growth is not as straightforward as identifying adult trees and shrubs, as they are often strikingly different in appearance. […]
Direct seeding can be a useful method for creating new woodland on former agricultural sites. However, the success of the technique is variable when it is used to restore conifer plantation sites to native species. Seed predation by small mammals, particularly the wood mouse, has been identified as a factor potentially limiting success. Small mammals […]
Liaison with site managers, contractors, and FR Field teams
Data management, validation and analysis
Quality Assurance: Drafting experiment plans and standard operating procedures
Drafting summary reports, site management plans and ecological survey strategies.
Providing specialist technical and scientific advice to arboreta managers
Liaison with volunteers
Sourcing trial and experiment sites
Knowledge exchange via presentations, reports, and media interviews
Peer reviewed publications
Parratt, M. J., Willoughby, I. H. and Forster, J. (2022). The potential of the selective graminicides cycloxidim and propyzamide as habitat improvement tools for the pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly. Quarterly Journal of Forestry, 116 (3), 166 – 172.
Sukovata, L., Dziuk, A., Parratt, M., Bystrowski, C., Dainton, K., Polaszek, A. and Moore, R. (2020). The importance of trap type, trap colour and capture liquid for catching Dendrolimus pini and their impact on by-catch of beneficial insects. Agricultural and Forest Entomology, 22, 319-327. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/afe.12383
McCartan, S. A. and Parratt, M. J. (2016). Common juniper in Britain: a review of the challenges facing this iconic species. Scottish Forestry, 70 (2), 34-40.
Jinks, R. L., Parratt, M. and Morgan, G. (2012). Preferences of granivorous rodents for seeds of 12 temperate tree and shrub species used in direct sowing. Journal of Forest Ecology and Management 278, 71-79.
FC and FR publications
Parratt, M. Jinks, R. (2013). Species preference of small mammals for direct-sown tree and shrub seeds. Forestry Commission Research Note
Willoughby, I. H. and Parratt M. J. (2016). Cycloxidim may be a partial future alternative to propyzamide for the control of Molinia caerulea, Deschampsia flexuosa, Calamagrostis epigejos and Holcus lanatus. Report to Forestry Commission England.
Trade journals / other publications
Mason, W.L., MacDonald, F., Parratt, M. and McLean, P. (2018). What alternative tree species can we grow in western Britain? 85 years of evidence from the Kilmun Forest Garden. Scottish Forestry, 72 (1) 24-33.
Parratt, M. J. (2016) Nature rules: an update on the grassland restoration project. Westonbirt, The National Arboretum Magazine 104, Summer 2016.
Parratt, M. J. (2013) Grassland riches: the grassland restoration project. Westonbirt, The National Arboretum Magazine 91, Spring 2013.
Jinks, R.J., Parratt, M.J. & Gates, G. (2015). Forest Seedlings: A guide to the seedlings of woodland trees and shrubs of Britain. Smartphone application
Intensive One day Broadleaved trees in winter ID training day for (Forestry Commission) Volunteer rangers in the New Forest. 9th February 2017.
Intensive One day Conifer ID training day for (Forestry Commission) Volunteer rangers in the New Forest. 4th November 2016.
Introductory Conifer and broadleaf tree ID training course for FR staff. October 19th-20th 2016.
Intensive One day Broadleaf tree ID training day for Forestry Commission England Volunteer rangers in the New Forest. 22nd June 2016.
Two day intensive Introduction to Tree ID for DEFRA staff. September 30th-October 1st 2015.
RSFS Field meeting, East Grange SRF trial site. July 20th 2022.
ICF Biomass workshop (overview of the Scottish and Welsh SRF trials with interim results). May 5th 2022.
Scottish Botanists Conference 2021 (online/YouTube). Larches in the British Isles.
Scottish Botanists Conference 2020 (online/YouTube). Introduction to conifer ID.
ICF meeting Kent (presenting the DEFRA Mass screening trials for Chalara ash dieback tolerance). June 30th 2016.
Tree Health Day – FC England (South West England). 23rd March 2016. Presenting the progress of the DEFRA Mass screening trials for Chalara ash dieback tolerance.
Tree Health Event, Forestry Commission England (North West and West Midlands District). October 5th 2015. Presenting the progress of the DEFRA Mass screening trials for Chalara ash dieback tolerance.
Woodland Trust Chalara Day, Pound Farm, Suffolk. June 16th 2015. Presenting the progress of the DEFRA Mass screening trials for Chalara ash dieback tolerance.