Biologically diverse ecosystems play important roles in promoting health and fighting disease by providing goods and services, including wild foods, natural medicines, and clean air and water. Human health also plays an important role in biodiversity outcomes, as poor health and low access to health services are drivers of biodiversity loss. Ecosystems, including intact forests, also help regulate common infectious diseases, like malaria, by inhibiting conditions that spread disease vectors. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into stark reality the connections between wildlife, the environment, public health, and human security. Biodiversity conservation and sound management of natural resources improve ecosystem function and productivity, with positive outcomes for human health and well-being.

Key Information

Pangolin scale seizure Hong Kong. Alex Hofford USAID Asia

Animal Smuggling in Air Transport and Preventing Zoonotic Disease

The shrinking separation between humans and wild ecosystems, and unregulated wildlife trade and consumption, increase the transmission of disease-causing viruses from animals to people through contact and interaction. Biodiversity conservation and combating wildlife trafficking, including in the air transport sector, can prevent disease transmission.
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 Instituto Floresta Tropical (IFT) forest management training camp, Fazenda Cauaxi, Pará state, Brazil - October 2009

Upstream watershed condition predicts rural children’s health across 35 developing countries

In a study of linkages between watershed conditions and diarrheal disease among children in rural areas, researchers found that higher upstream tree cover was associated with lower probability of diarrheal disease among children from rural households living in downstream communities.
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Man accesses water in Kailas, Bajhang District, Nepal_credit Jason Houston for USAID

Water and Sanitation Reference Sheet

Natural ecosystems capture, store and purify water, allowing biodiversity programming to complement and protect water and sanitation investments. Similarly, by improving waste water treatment and increasing water use efficiency, water and sanitation programming reduces the pollution of aquatic ecosystems and lessens the amount of water taken from rivers or lakes.
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