Get your hands dirty for health

June 22, 2020

Billions of people using the Earth's resources and changing or destroying ecosystems are not only creating the global environmental and climate crisis, but also compromising human health and long-term survival of our species, experts warn in an open letter to world leaders.

The #HealthyRecovery initiative, signed by more than 4500 health professionals from 90 countries, urges G20 Presidents and Prime Ministers to legislate and fund projects to enable ecological restoration for better human health as part of their stimulus packages in the aftermath of COVID-19.

One of the co-signatories, the Adelaide-based Healthy Urban Microbiome Initiative (HUMI) research group, is conducting a rearguard of research to support these vital initiatives.

"As the COVID-19 pandemic shows, global health systems are struggling to cope with the burden of disease, with scientists and health experts connecting public health interventions with ecological restoration, including for improved air quality and soil health," says HUMI member, Flinders University scientist Dr Martin Breed in a new paper in

"An action plan to restore ecosystems for human health is imperative, and the COVID-19 pandemic presents a great opportunity to kickstart a real paradigm shift in global efforts," says Flinders ecology lecturer Dr Breed, who is also an expert observer for the WHO Interagency Liaison Group on Biodiversity and Health.

"We now mostly live in biologically-impoverished cities, and our demand for environmental resources has led to this global environmental crisis," he says.

"Ecological restoration is a clearly identifiable pathway to tackle some of our most critical challenges, as it becomes increasingly clear that the human and ecological health crises are intimately interwoven.

"Improved understanding of the links between ecological restoration and human health will catalyse important investments into this most fundamental of public health interventions, which will likely result in environmental and health gains that pay generational dividends."

HUMI was established in 2016, and is a UN-backed initiative that seeks to restore the immune-restorative power of biodiverse green spaces in cities to maximise human health gains.
'Ecosystem restoration - a public health intervention' (2020) by MF Breed, AT Cross, K Wallace, K Bradby, E Flies, N Goodwin, M Jones, L Orlando, C Skelly, P Weinstein, J Arsonson has been published in EcoHealth (Nature Springer) DOI: 10.1007/s10393-020-01480-1

Participating groups include the ARC Centre for Mine Site Restoration, Curtin University; People, Cities and Nature, University of Waikato NZ; Gondwana Link, WA; Healthy Landscapes Group and School of Natural Sciences, University of Tasmania; EcoHealth Network; Economics in Context Initiative and School of Public Health, Boston University USA; Public Health Dorset UK, School of Public Health, University of Adelaide; and Missouri Botanical Garden, USA.

'We have witnessed first hand how fragile communities can be when their health, food security and freedom to work are interrupted by a common threat. The layers of this ongoing tragedy are many, and magnified by inequality and underinvestment in public health systems. We have witnessed death, disease and mental distress at levels not seen for decades.' - From the #HealthyRecovery open letter to world leaders

Flinders University

Related Biodiversity Articles from Brightsurf:

Biodiversity hypothesis called into question
How can we explain the fact that no single species predominates?

Using the past to maintain future biodiversity
New research shows that safeguarding species and ecosystems and the benefits they provide for society against future climatic change requires effective solutions which can only be formulated from reliable forecasts.

Changes in farming urgent to rescue biodiversity
Humans depend on farming for their survival but this activity takes up more than one-third of the world's landmass and endangers 62% of all threatened species.

Predicting the biodiversity of rivers
Biodiversity and thus the state of river ecosystems can now be predicted by combining environmental DNA with hydrological methods, researchers from the University of Zurich and Eawag have found.

About the distribution of biodiversity on our planet
Large open-water fish predators such as tunas or sharks hunt for prey more intensively in the temperate zone than near the equator.

Bargain-hunting for biodiversity
The best bargains for conserving some of the world's most vulnerable salamanders and other vertebrate species can be found in Central Texas and the Appalachians, according to new conservation tools developed at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Researchers solve old biodiversity mystery
The underlying cause for why some regions are home to an extremely large number of animal species may be found in the evolutionary adaptations of species, and how they limit their dispersion to specific natural habitats.

Biodiversity offsetting is contentious -- here's an alternative
A new approach to compensate for the impact of development may be an effective alternative to biodiversity offsetting -- and help nations achieve international biodiversity targets.

Biodiversity yields financial returns
Farmers could increase their revenues by increasing biodiversity on their land.

Biodiversity and wind energy
The location and operation of wind energy plants are often in direct conflict with the legal protection of endangered species.

Read More: Biodiversity News and Biodiversity Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to