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Conservationist: Protecting nature an ‘investment’ in our health

© Jorge Illich-Gejo

This post was updated on May 7, 2020.

In recent decades, wildlife populations have faced catastrophic decline. Over that same period, diseases that spread from animals to humans have rapidly multiplied.

This is not a coincidence, says one prominent conservationist. 

“Clearly, these two things are linked,” said Conservation International CEO M. Sanjayan, in a new online video published today. 

While researchers work furiously to confirm the source of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts have pointed to a preponderance of evidence that the destruction of nature has a major role in disease outbreaks. Research shows that the spread of malaria and dengue fever, for example, has skyrocketed in areas with high levels of forest destruction caused by agricultural expansion, mining and logging.

In the video, Sanjayan calls for renewed efforts to stop deforestation and to clamp down on the illegal trade in wild animals, particularly in the tropics, where many recent infectious disease outbreaks have originated. 

Not only is protecting nature vital to the health of the planet, Sanjayan notes, it could be crucial to preventing future pandemics.

“Investment in preventing the destruction of nature is also an investment in keeping us healthy,” he said.

Watch the video in full, below. 


Kiley Price is a staff writer at Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates here. Donate to Conservation International here.

Cover image: The Amazon rainforest Jorge Illich-Gejo)