Working Paper Essay Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Time to See the Forest for the Trees: Protecting Forests Could Prevent Future Pandemics and Help Preserve a Common Planetary Future

Version 1 : Received: 24 June 2020 / Approved: 26 June 2020 / Online: 26 June 2020 (12:47:05 CEST)

How to cite: Mertens, T.; Abecasis, A. Time to See the Forest for the Trees: Protecting Forests Could Prevent Future Pandemics and Help Preserve a Common Planetary Future. Preprints 2020, 2020060316 Mertens, T.; Abecasis, A. Time to See the Forest for the Trees: Protecting Forests Could Prevent Future Pandemics and Help Preserve a Common Planetary Future. Preprints 2020, 2020060316

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic and increased rates of documented Emerging Infectious Diseases (EIDs) in human populations over the last century have drawn attention on understanding pathogens spill over to humans and their zoonotic origin. In this paper we argue that we need to change the thinking about the fundamental cause of zoonoses. Our premise is that deforestation is the primary cause of EIDs events and that, to prevent future pandemics, it needs to be addressed without further delays. Therefore, we review recent trends of proximate and underlying determinants of deforestation, forest degradation and related biodiversity losses while seeking to clarify their links to the determinants of EIDs events. Acknowledging the magnitude of the challenge, we propose responses to stop global deforestation from a trans-disciplinary, intersectoral perspective led by indigenous people. While we envisage that stopping deforestation is the most important approach with long term direct and indirect effects on human, animal and plants health, providing climate changes mitigation and preventing otherwise difficult to predict EID events, we argue that such an initiative may usefully be complemented by reducing contacts between humans and wildlife animals and regulating rather than banning markets where wild animals are sold alive.Finally, we discuss transformative changes to improve planetary-wide forests preservation, soil, plants, animal, and human protection, together with a further understanding of EIDs transmission dynamics, public health veterinary and human disease surveillance, for improved global collective preparedness and action for the management of zoonotic EIDs.

Subject Areas

deforestation; emerging infectious diseases; zoonosis; planetary health

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