Rhode Island Forest Conservation Commission

Rhode Island’s forest land has many important values, including, but not limited to: clean air, clean water, economic importance, climate change mitigation, habitat, and supporting human health and well-being. Forest land should be maintained to meet Rhode Island’s aggressive climate change goals through carbon sequestration and storage. Core forest land and connecting natural areas should be conserved to prevent ongoing fragmentation of the state’s forests. Moreover, forest conservation is necessary to protect and maintain water quality and important wildlife habitat. It is in the best interest of the people that the state identify and acquire the development rights to core and unfragmented forests so as to maintain these important forest values for future generations. Moreover, the state must develop incentives to encourage private forest land owners to maintain forests and to enhance urban and community forestry ecosystems that provide collective benefits for their myriad of critical benefits.

In 2021, the RI General Assembly, through the Forest Conservation Act, established a Forest Conservation Commission to be coordinated and staffed by the Department of Environmental Management to implement the following objectives:

  • Assess and recommend new funding sources to conserve forest land across the forest continuum of rural to urban landscapes;
  • Identify incentives to encourage forest landowners to maintain and manage their land and preserve forest values;
  • Encourage forest conservation as a means to sequester carbon and mitigate climate change and maintain the numerous other benefits provided by forests;
  • Help to increase and create new markets for Rhode Island forest products to store carbon long-term and create new jobs;
  • Assess impediments to the expansion of the Rhode Island forest products industry and recommend changes to remove impediments;
  • Assess means to encourage the improvement and expansion of urban and community forestry; and
  • Coordinate and seek input from key stakeholders to identify other science-based initiatives to promote the conservation of Rhode Island forestland.