Land Use

Land Use 2025, Rhode Island's Land Use Policies and Plan, is Rhode Island’s plan for conservation and development in the 21st century. This plan challenges Rhode Islanders to work collectively to design, build, and conserve the state’s communities and landscapes to insure that they are of a caliber Rhode Island deserves. Land Use 2025 is the major State Guide Plan in Rhode Island’s planning and development system. The plan articulates the state’s overarching goals, objectives, and strategies to guide and coordinate the land-use plans and regulations of municipalities and state agencies and to direct good strategic projects at both state and municipal levels.

Land Use 2025

Updated Land Use and Impervious Data Available

The Division of Planning’s Land Use and RIGIS Units and the Department of Environmental Management’s Supervising GIS Specialist have completed a project to update the land use land cover and impervious characteristics for the State. The Photo Science Company was contracted to perform the project replicating the semi-automated process used for the 2003-04 land use land cover and impervious data sets. The digital GIS data and supporting information that resulted is intended to assist Rhode Island’s community of planners and land resource managers.

This is the latest land cover land use data set for Rhode Island. It contains the statewide land use data set (rilu11) in an ESRI coverage format. It is a statewide, seamless digital dataset of the land cover land use derived using automated and semi-automated methods and is based on orthophotography captured in spring 2011. The project area encompasses the entire State and extends 1/2 mile into the neighboring states of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Geographic feature accuracy meets the National Mapping Standards for 1:5000 scale mapping with respect to base level data (roads, hydrography, and orthos). The minimum mapping unit for this dataset is 0.5 acre. The land use classification scheme used for the data was based on the same Anderson Level III modified coding schema used in previous land use datasets in Rhode Island (1988, 1995 & 2003/2004).

The impervious data set is a statewide, seamless digital dataset of the impervious surfaces for the State derived using semi-automated methods also based on the 2011 spring color orthophotography. The project area is the same as the rilu11 data set. This raster dataset has two classes - pervious and impervious. Impervious surfaces are human-created surfaces that do not allow water to permeate through them. The data includes paved surfaces such as buildings, roads, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, swimming pools, tennis courts, compacted dirt roads, athletic tracks, and water treatment facilities. This data does not include over-water features such as docks and bridges. Only human-made impervious surfaces are included - not natural surfaces such as rock outcrops, rocky shoreline, etc. The dataset has a spatial resolution of 2 ft.

Metadata detailing the specific characteristics for each data set are also included. A cautionary note; Rilu11 and rilu03 do not contain all wetlands in the State that were previously identified in older RIGIS land use data or other RIGIS wetlands data sets. Areas classified as forested wetlands in those earlier land use data sets are shown as forest types in rilu03 and rilu11. These data were derived from automated and photo interpreted processes and should be used for preliminary planning purposes only.

These copyrighted data are distributed for free under the terms of the RIGIS license agreement. Please review the RIGIS license agreement for more information before accessing these data. The data and supporting information is on the World Wide Web site maintained by the University of Rhode Island’s Environmental Data Center for download at:

RI Geographic Information System