Deforestation is a major cause of biodiversity loss with a negative impact on human health. Outbreaks of vector-borne diseases such as COVID-19 are associated with increases in areas of palm oil plantations.
A major 2021 study in Frontiers in Veterinary Science examined whether global scale loss and gain of forest cover and the rise of oil palm plantations can promote outbreaks of vector-borne and zoonotic diseases.
2021 #Research: Outbreaks of vector-borne and #zoonotic #diseases e.g. COVID-19 are linked to changes in forest cover and global #palmoil expansion #Boycott4Wildlife #BoycottpalmoilTweet
The study took into account the human population growth and found that increases in outbreaks of zoonotic and vector-borne diseases from 1990 to 2016 were linked to deforestation, mostly in tropical countries, and with reforestation, mostly in temperate countries.
The study also found that outbreaks of vector-borne diseases were associated with the increase in areas of palm oil plantations.
The study gives new support for a link between global deforestation and outbreaks of zoonotic and vector-borne diseases as well as evidences that reforestation and plantations may also contribute to epidemics of infectious diseases.
The results are discussed in light of the importance of forests for biodiversity, livelihoods and human health and the need to urgently build an international governance framework to ensure the preservation of forests and the ecosystem services they provide, including the regulation of diseases.
The team from Montpellier University also provide recommendations to scientists, public health officers and policymakers who should reconcile the need to preserve biodiversity while taking into account the health risks posed by lack or mismanagement of forests.
Morand Serge, Lajaunie Claire (2021) Outbreaks of Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases Are Associated With Changes in Forest Cover and Oil Palm Expansion at Global Scale, Frontiers in Veterinary Science, Vol. 8, https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fvets.2021.661063. DOI=10.3389/fvets.2021.661063