Nearly three-fourths of recognized emerging infectious diseases (EID) events – of which the COVID-19 pandemic is one – are zoonotic, meaning they originate from animals. For those EIDs currently associated with forests, the proximate causal factors in their emergence include a combination of deforestation and other land use changes, increased human contact with pathogens harboured by forest dwelling animal by humans lacking previous exposure, and pathogen adaptation. By reshaping forest boundaries, altering habitat and reducing biodiversity, the growing global pressure on land and its products is thus increasing the risk of EIDs with important impacts on human health worldwide, and in particular, on those most reliant on forest and wildlife resources and less covered by social protection mechanisms.
One Health, defined as the collaborative effort of multiple disciplines to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment, is well-positioned to examine holistically interconnections among human and forest and ecosystem health. Over the past decade, One Health approach has garnered increasing interest most prominently across public health, animal, and livestock communities.
In practice, however, biodiversity conservation and ecosystem dynamics have often received less attention in One Health policies, projects, plans and research than human-animal interconnections in the evaluation of disease risk, with correspondingly lesser consideration for the upstream drivers of ill health and systems thinking.
To inform efforts to “build back better” after the COVID-19 pandemic, this event will identify key entry points for strengthening forestry and biodiversity considerations in One Health approach to better prevent and manage forestry-related disease outbreaks.
Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, WHO
Forests, wildlife and human health nexus: it is all about balance (Robert Nasi, Director General, Center for International Forestry Research – CIFOR)
One Health approach and building back better with Ministries of Forestry and Wildlife (Scott Newman, Senior Animal & Production Health Officer, FAO Regional Office for Africa)
The Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) Programme after COVID-19: what can the One Health Approach bring to the wildlife sector and vice versa (Sandra Ratiarison, Forestry Officer, FAO Subregional Office for Central Africa)