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Forestry scientist in mission to conserve endangered tree

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Matthew Parratt of Forest Research with Vietnamese scientists and forest workers on site of re-introduction of Xanthocyparis vietnamensis in Bat Dai Son Nature Reserve, Vietnam

Forestry scientist Matt Parratt is in the front line of an international effort to conserve one of the world’s rarest and most endangered tree species.

It is a conifer found only in a small corner of Viet Nam, and Matt, a seed specialist with the Forestry Commission’s Forest Research arm, travelled to Viet Nam as part of an international tree conservation programme working to conserve it.

The global conservation project aims to help conserve five globally threatened conifer species, including Vietnam’s Xanthocyparis vietnamensis and Cupressus tonkinensis, both of which were only recently identified. Both grow in the karst limestone mountains of north-eastern Viet Nam.

Matt brought back to the UK seeds of the Xanthocyparis vietnamensis tree, which is struggling to replace itself in the wild through natural regeneration because it produces very few fertile seeds. He and his colleagues will study them and try to germinate them, using techniques developed over the years by Forest Research scientists to boost the germination rates of tree seeds.

Matt works at Forest Research’s Alice Holt Lodge research station near Farnham in Surrey. While in Viet Nam, he gave a presentation to his Vietnamese hosts about the propagation of rare and endangered conifers at the Commission’s National Pinetum at Bedgebury in Kent. He visited nurseries and local communities involved in the project, advised on propagation problems and techniques, and visited conservation sites where Xanthocyparis vietnamensis had been re-introduced to the wild and other sites where Cupressus tonkinensis is being cultivated as ornamental specimens.

Through his work, as well as with the expert guidance he provided during the trip, it is hoped there will be more successful propagation and re-introduction of the endangered species to the wild. He said,

“It’s a privilege to be able to contribute to this important conservation programme. By building partnerships and collaborating with scientists around the world we can work together, sharing knowledge, skills and resources to the benefit of global conservation.”

His visit was funded by the Friends of the Bedgebury National Pinetum, and was part of a project to conserve threatened conifer species in Viet Nam run by The Global Trees Campaign (under the auspices of the charity Fauna & Flora International) and the Centre for Plant Conservation in Hanoi, Viet Nam.

For further information about the project and the propagation of rare and endangered species by Forest Research and the National Pinetum, visit and Alternatively, contact Chris Reynolds of the Pinetum on, or Matt Parratt on

Picture caption:

Matt Parratt (centre at back), from Britain’s Forest Research, and Xiaoya Li (front centre), from Fauna & Flora International, with Vietnamese scientists and forest workers at a site where Xanthocyparis vietnamensis has been reintroduced in the Bat Dai Son Nature Reserve.

Notes to editor:

  1. Matt Parratt works at Forest Research’s Centre for Forest Resources & Management as a project officer researching seed and seedling biology.
  2. Forest Research’s involvement in the global project resulted from its specialist advisory role with the National Pinetum. The visit enabled the transfer of expert knowledge about seed propagation developed through Forest Research’s seed and seedling biology research.
  3. Forest Research’s seed germination expertise has been used in other international projects to help conserve rare and endangered tree species. An example is the Chilean plum yew - see .
  4. Forest Research is part of the Forestry Commission, which is the government department for forestry in Great Britain. It conducts world-class scientific research and technical development relevant to forestry for a range of internal and external clients. For further information visit
  5. The Global Trees Campaign is a partnership between Fauna & Flora International, Botanic Gardens Conservation International and many other organisations around the world. It aims to conserve threatened tree species through the provision of information, conservation action, and support for their sustainable use. For further information visit
  6. The Friends of the Bedgebury National Pinetum bring together people and organisations who work to support the Pinetum’s collection of conifers and its expansion, to promote tree conservation, and to help educate people about natural history in general and conifers specifically. For further information visit

Media contact: Charlton Clark, 0131 314 6500