New partnership concerned about forest fragmentation

Despite being the second-most urbanized state, Rhode Island remains more than 50 percent forested. That fact is further obscured by the state’s 400 miles of renowned coastline.

“It’s called the Ocean State for a reason, but our forests play an important role,” said Christopher Riely, coordinator of the all-volunteer Rhode Island Woodland Partnership. “It’s amazing how quickly it drops off to a terrific forested landscape that supports a wide variety of wildlife. Much of this forestland is privately owned, as families are the ones pulling together the tapestry.”

Prior to European settlement, Rhode Island’s landscape looked vastly different, as about 95 percent of the state was forested, according to a history posted on the Rhode Island Woodland Partnership website. For Native Americans, this landscape provided sources of food — the American chestnut tree, for instance, which has since been stricken from its dominant overstory presence because of introduced disease — and materials for living.

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