Rhode Island, since time immemorial, has always been famous for its lush forests and scenic landscapes. The state’s forests are rich in flora and fauna even before European colonizers came to the country. But today, the forests and the overall tree health in the state are in some kind of in danger that could potentially threaten them.


Over the last 3 years, around 13 percent of the forests in Rhode Island is reported to be dead by the environmental officials in the state. To put this to numbers, around 45,000 – 50,000 acres of land covered by trees are dead. Environmental officials said that the cause of these deaths is due to the combination of severe drought, heat, and insect infestations. Insect invasion is the prime suspect for the deaths of these trees as they consider trees as their main source of food. The drought has weakened the trees to the point that they become easily vulnerable to leaf-eating insects such as gypsy moth caterpillars. Insect outbreaks are common all over the world and they are known to decimate large forests even nothing is done.


What the state is doing to promote tree health and growth in RI?


Urban forestry is one of Rhode Island’s solution for saving the trees in the state. This is the process of managing the growth of forests and incorporate them into urban areas. Simply put, urban forests are a collection of trees that are found in urban areas such as streets, parks, yards, and those found in suburban areas.


RI has also been participating in the country’s Forest Health Monitoring Program which aims to track and monitor the status and the latest trends for sustaining the health of forest ecosystems in the US. The state has participated in the program since it was first implemented in 1990. Every year measurements and other useful information are being taken and recorded in order to assess the current condition of the forests in the state. Measurements include tree damage, crown spread, and dieback, and crown transparency. With this program, environmental officials will be able to assess the extent of the damage and then devise a strategy that will preserve the forests.


Rhode Island’s forests, like all other forests in the world, are continued to be challenged diseases, insects, pests, weather conditions, human settlement, and other factors. But the forests, no matter what happens, are still able to thrive. Their ability to overcome all these challenges are well demonstrated.