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RIWPS 2016 Annual Volunteer Awards

Volunteer of the Year is awarded to Helen Drew for her work at Seed Starters West and the Early Native Plant Sale. The Lifetime Service Award is given to Doug McGrady for his dedication to seeking and identify rare plants and plant communities in RI and sharing his passion and knowledge as a RIWPS walk leader.  Rhode Island’s native plant populations and the RIWPS community are better because of them.  Awardees from past years.

RIWPS Native Plant Exhibit Wins Three Awards

Rhode Island Coastal Habitats – Spring: Emergence and Rebirth earned, First Place Award (Non Profits), First Place Award (People’s Choice) and The Roger and Elizabeth Swain Award for Design and Execution at the RI Spring Garden & Flower Show at the Providence Convention Center, February 18-21.

Congratulations and much appreciation to Kevin Alverson, Judy Ireland, Frances Topping and Barney Webster for their outstanding exhibit. Special thanks to Sue Gordan for her work forcing and nurturing plants and to all those who volunteered their time and talents to bring the design from the planning stage to its final rendition on the exhibit floor, complete with exhibit docents.

Rhode Island Coastal Habitats – Spring: Emergence and Rebirth highlighted the plant diversity occurring at the transition zones between coastal and inland climates, one of Rhode Island mini ecosystems that makes our landscape so unique and beautiful, and one of the habitats most threatened by rising sea levels and other climate changes.

Using our native plants in our public open spaces as well as our private coastal properties is essential to secure a diverse coastal vegetative habitat, to create a buffer zone to protect against coastal erosion and to maintain the foraging and shelter habitats that native plants provide for our wildlife.

State of New England's Plants

Why Native Plants Matter


New England Wild Flower Society
has released its State of the Plants report, the most comprehensive assessment of New England plants and plant communities ever assembled.

The report discusses the critical importance of plant diversity, profiles five key habitat types, and identifies primary threats to these habitats and to New England’s plant life as a whole. It assesses the status of hundreds of rare and declining plant species. The report also outlines priorities for researching, conserving and managing thousands of species that together comprise New England’s vibrant flora.

Insights from the report include:

  • Plants are in trouble worldwide and in New England, where 22% of native plant species-593 species-are listed as rare or possibly extinct, and 31% of plants are non-native.
  • After a century of reforestation, New England’s forest cover is declining, along with plant diversity.
  • Climate change is already affecting New England plant communities and will accelerate if current trends continue. Forest, alpine, coastal, and estuarine species are most at risk. If current trends continue, Vermont will have the climate of Connecticut by 2039 and of North Carolina by 2070.
  • Multiple threats, ranging from land development to widespread pesticide use to invasive species, together undermine the resilience of our native plant communities.
  • Insect-pollinated plants-the majority of native plants-are in particular trouble and are declining along with insects that pollinate and rely on them.

The report recommends urgent and continued action to save endangered plants, mitigate threats, and conserve and better manage land where plants thrive. At a regional level, we must expand research about our native plant ecosystems and strengthen laws to protect them.

We can individually support native plants and their vital food webs in many ways: by planting native species in our landscapes, avoiding pesticides and herbicides, controlling non-native invasive plants on our land, and educating our children and communities about native plants and their ecological value.

Authored by Elizabeth Farnsworth, the Society’s Senior Research Ecologist, the peer- reviewed report draws on hundreds of studies of New England plant communities, the fieldwork of more than 700 volunteers and professional botanists across New England, and the expertise of leading botanical researchers and the 60 partner organizations in the Society’s New England Plant Conservation Program.

Read State of Plants in Brief or the full report