State and city officials observe Arbor Day in North Kingstown with tree planting

Trees play a vital role in the health of our environment, and they are not equally distributed across the state.

By: Tim Studebaker

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NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WLNE) – Rhode Island’s state tree is the red maple, and a new one has now taken up residence at Wilson Park in North Kingstown after a ceremonial tree planting for Arbor Day.

Lou Allard is the Urban and Community Forestry Program Coordinator for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.  Allard says, “This is the 150th nationwide anniversary of Arbor Day and 135th anniversary in Rhode Island.  It’s basically a day where we take to celebrate trees and recognize the importance of all the things they bring us.”

According to the DEM, trees help cool neighborhoods and homes in the summer.  They also help prevent erosion, filter the air, clean storm water runoff, and remove carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere. They’re also home to many different species of wildlife.

Allard says, “We like to think of them as infrastructure, just like any other thing like electricity or water, they’re providing people services.”

According to the DEM, more than half of Rhode Island is forested, but those trees are not equally distributed.

Allard says, “You can split the state in half almost, where you have real forested areas for that whole western part of the state.  Then on that eastern side of the state where we’re more urbanized, the cities and towns have more people, so that’s where you’re looking at more of your urban forests.”

Allard’s job is to help those urban communities plant more trees so people all across the state have access to trees and their benefits.

Allard says, “By having an event like this and recognizing the communities that are doing their job, it’s hopefully going to encourage more people to look at their own community forests and see what we can do to make our state a better place.”

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Categories: News, Rhode Island