Human health linked directly to forest health
Gland, Switzerland — Environmental degradation is causing serious detrimental health impacts for humans, but protecting natural habitats can reverse this and supply positive health benefits, according to a new WWF report.
"Our research confirms what we know instinctively: Human health is inextricably linked to the health of the planet," says Chris Elliot, WWF's Executive Director of Conservation.
Vital Sites: The Contribution of Protected Areas to Human Health notes that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates between 23 and 25 per cent of the global disease burden could be avoided by improved management of environmental conditions.
The report, released in advance of World Forestry Day on March 21, singles out deforestation for its key impacts on human health.
"Deforestation is a double blow to human health," says Elliot. "It increases the spread of certain diseases while destroying plants and animals that may hold the key to treating illnesses that plague millions of people."
Protecting natural landscapes can contribute positively to human health through protecting future medicinal resources, reducing the impacts of pollution, toxins and weather extremes and providing recreational places that support physical and mental well-being.
World Forestry Day takes on special significance this year, as 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. "Vital Sites" makes a strong case for protecting biodiversity.
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