Superseded heritage lists are available in the Resource Library (keyword “rare”).
When a species naturally part of Rhode Island’s biota is in danger of extirpation from the state, law (RIGL 20-37-2) allows the Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) to list it as such. This is the rare and endangered species list or “natural heritage” list. Policies can then be promulgated to try to prevent further decline of listed species.
The “natural heritage program” lists rare species, documents status and trends in their population and viability, and identifies and maps locales where they carry out important life-cycle activities (breeding, hibernating, feeding, etc), called “natural heritage areas”.
The Natural History Survey maintains a database of known occurrences of natural heritage listed species, and data products are available for commercial, research, educational, and conservation purposes within certain limits related to privacy and security.
The Natural History Survey responds to data requests for non-profit conservation, educational, and research purposes, while RIDEM handles data requests for regulatory, permitting, and commercial purposes. Contact the Survey office for more information.
The Survey encourages the submission of heritage species observations to improve the value of the heritage database for all purposes.
Documentation and mapping of rare species and natural communities is essential for effective planning, implementation, and monitoring of conservation actions. After five decades of activity, the natural heritage methodology is well understood and broadly supported by the public, and is, therefore, particularly effective and valuable.
RIDEM approves species listings and oversees the application of natural heritage priorities in the implementation of a range of state activities and regulations. Although it is authorized in statute to assist RIDEM in these activities, the Rhode Island Natural History Survey is non-regulatory.