Biodiversity and health

Biodiversity plays a critical role for human health and well-being, economic prosperity, food safety and security, and other important areas necessary for the individual and collective wellness of all human societies. Healthy ecosystems provide clean air, support food security, grant humans and wildlife access to freshwater, and support all of our livelihoods. 

Threats to biodiversity and health

Biodiversity underpins all life on Earth. Recent studies point out that biodiversity has declined at an alarming rate in the past years, largely as a result of human activity. The loss of biodiversity can have significant impacts on human health if we do not guarantee that the ecosystem services it provides are protected. 

Biodiversity loss has many consequences, not only for the environment but also for human beings. These consequences span economic disruption to zoological pandemics and human alienation from the natural world. Our current trajectory of habitat alteration and destruction is putting thousands of species in danger of extinction. 

  • Land degradation affects soil and water, which are fundamental to food production
  • Imbalances in ecosystems can lead to the emergence of pests that damage crops.
  • Limit discovery of potential treatments for many diseases and health problems.

"As we degrade ecosystems, the risk of future pandemics increases." 

David Cooper, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity

Reversing biodiversity loss and ensuring the longevity of human health and well-being requires collective action and efforts from all segments of society. Important opportunities for reversing biodiversity loss include establishing effectively managed protected and conserved areas and engaging in ecosystem restoration. 

Specialist Groups addressing health in biodiversity

IUCN WCPA Health and Well-Being Specialist Group

The World Commission on Protected Areas Health and Well-being Specialist Group promotes the health and well-being benefits of nature across the conservation, health and other sectors.

IUCN WCPA Health and Well-Being Specialist Group read more

IUCN SSC Wildlife Health Specialist Group

The group is commissioned to serve as a first response for wildlife health concerns relevant to conservation around the world. The focus of the group is on health impacts that relate to the conservation of species, some of which are negative to wildlife population persistence and a threat to endangered species.

IUCN SSC Wildlife Health Specialist Group read more
Wildlife an infrequent source of human illness: IUCN report
Wildlife an infrequent source of human illness: IUCN report

Gland, Switzerland, 3 February 2022 (IUCN) – A new IUCN report by the Species Survival Commission finds that contact with and trade of domesticated animals and their products are by far the most frequent source of recurring human…