The destruction of various ecosystems increases the risk of epidemics

Global warming and the resulting consequences are likely to haunt us for a long time to come. But the risks of local epidemics outbreak and expansion into pandemics also increase from time to time. A new study now suggests that pandemics of international scope are favored by our course.

The results available so far show that epidemics break out precisely in areas where biodiversity is declining. Examples are parts of the world where forests are being cut down or new mining infrastructure is being built. Even the reforestation of ecosystems can be dangerous if only a few tree and plant varieties are used. In this case, the key against disease outbreaks is to preserve complex ecosystems and rebuild destroyed systems. Furthermore, monocultures (e.g. palm oil plantations or soybean fields) should be reduced.

Palm oil plantations are a real killer for biodiversity (Image: Nazarizal Mohammad)

Reason is that if there is a lack of diversity, robust species such as rats or mosquitoes are more likely to survive, while their natural enemies die out. As a result, possible hosts increase and transmission to humans becomes more likely. As a result, malaria cases are already increasing in Brazil and mosquitoes, which transmit a particularly large number of diseases, can wreak havoc in Asia – and forestry decisions should be included. Projects to prepare land for agriculture or the construction of a new mine could, for example, be overturned if we intervene too deeply in complex ecosystems. Because with SARS-CoV-2 we saw what can happen when a person comes into contact with a new type of virus. An epidemic can then quickly become a pandemic.

Rats can transmit pathogens quickly (Image: Simon Kuznetsov)

The data relevant to the study come from various sources. In addition to information from the World Health Organization and the World Bank, data from various smaller organizations were also included. Further investigations should support or refute previous theses and offer a possibility to predict future outbreaks. The development of various ecosystems (for example by initiating local projects) should also be advanced in this way.

Own opinion:

Not all things that seem good at first sight also have positive effects on our lives. It has long been clear that afforestation of areas is not always the right solution, because in some situations it is more quality than quantity that counts. But the increasing land requirement of agriculture could also become a problem in the long term. So it is sometimes up to our needs whether we have to keep expanding or whether existing space is sufficient. The current pandemic has shown us what can happen when humans get too close to the animal kingdom. It is up to us to prevent such scenarios in the future.

Via The Guardian

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