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Controlling deforestation and wildlife trade can prevent pandemics

Along Michael Marshall

Indonesian palm oil plantation

Putu Altana / Alami

According to the Global Biodiversity Report, unsustainable practices such as deforestation and industrial-scale wildlife trade can be stopped to prevent future pandemics. The cost of doing so will be repaid many times just because we don’t have to go through another pandemic.

Millions of people live or work in close contact with disease-carrying wildlife, and these industries are not properly regulated. For example, the more people deforest for farmland, the more they are pushed into animal habitats and regularly in contact with disease-carrying wildlife.

It costs $ 40-58 billion annually to manage global wildlife trade and reduce land-use change, according to the report. There are many, but the covid-19 pandemic is estimated to have caused $ 8-16 trillion in damage to the global economy by July. Prior to the covid-19 crisis, the total cost of a pandemic was $ 1 trillion annually, including treatment costs and economic and productivity losses, including an ongoing HIV and influenza pandemic.

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Peter Daszak, report author for the Eco Health Alliance in New York, said:

This report was published by the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform (IPBES) on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

Almost all known pandemic diseases come from animals, says Dasak. Covid-19 came from a Chinese bat. “HIV was born from the hunting of chimpanzees,” he said, and the recent outbreak of Ebola in Africa arose from the hunting of wild primates.

Many of the most harmful practices are driven by western consumer practices. “The reason roads are being built in Indonesia’s rainforest is to supply palm oil,” says Dasak. Palm oil is used in many foods such as packaged bread, ice cream and peanut butter.

Another issue is wild animals sold for pets and food. These have been tested for only a handful of illnesses. “The United States is one of the largest importers of wildlife,” he says.

Antibodies research by Chinese people suggests that more than one million people are infected through bats with the coronavirus associated with the coronavirus that is fueling the current pandemic each year, Dasak says. Most of these exposures do not cause outbreaks, but each has its own risks.

“There is this huge population exposed on a huge scale throughout the region,” he says. “I live near a bat cave, evacuate to a bat cave to get out of the rain, hunt and eat bats, use bat droppings for medicine, and spread bat droppings on crops to fertilize them. It is. “

Living wildlife markets, such as those associated with the early spread of covid-19, are also a factor in poor operation. Often, multiple species are housed together in a densely populated area, and stall owners live on the premises with their families. “There are many ways to make it safer,” says Dasak.

IPBES Secretary-General Anne Larigauderie said the report will be reflected in the next major conference of the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2021 after being postponed due to a pandemic. The conference sets global biodiversity goals for the next decade.

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