Environmental group looking for volunteers to map out older, well-established forests in Rhode Island

The goal of the project is to conserve and protect older forests from development and land-clearing.

By: Tim Studebaker

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Nathan Cornell is on a mission: to conserve and protect older, well established forest land in Rhode Island.

Cornell says, “The purpose of this project would be to map the remaining areas of old-growth so it isn’t destroyed and we can preserve those areas because they’re so rare.  They’re less than 1% of our forests.”

Cornell says older forests help store more carbon and are home to a better diversity of native species versus younger forests.  One of the biggest problems facing what’s left of those older forests is land clearing for development.

Cornell says, “Even the last few decades, some of the pockets of old-growth forests have been destroyed.  They’re cut down, and at this point there’s no survey to see if there’s old growth before a project happens.”

Cornell is one of the state co-coordinators for the Old-Growth Forest Network, which aims to identify and protect at least one old-growth forest in each county in the US.  He’s aiming to go above and beyond that goal, creating a new non-profit organization to protect all of the old-growth forest land in Rhode Island.  Cornell says he’s looking for volunteers to help map out all the areas that need to be protected, more easily than if he tried to do the work alone.

Cornell says, “Now we can cover areas like Barrington, Tiverton, Exeter.  We can cover the whole state, and we can get a lot done.  They’re so rare, they’re so important, and they need to be protected.”

If you’re interested in helping them out, email Nathan Cornell at ncornell@my.uri.edu

And to learn more about the Old-Growth Forest Network, visit their website: https://www.oldgrowthforest.net/

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2021

Categories: News, Rhode Island