COHAB Initiative Secretariat participates in NCI workshop on ecosystems and human health

The Natural Capital Initiative (U.K.) held a one-day workshop on the theme "Ecosystems Services and the Delivery of Human Health Benefits" at the British Library Conference Centre in London on Tuesday 28th September. The meeting was attended by around 60 participants, including experts from the spheres of biodiversity science, environmental management, sociology, geography, public health, agriculture, land-use planning and medical practice. The aim of the event was to explore the evidence for the links between ecosystems and human health in the United Kingdom, and to identify key messages to be taken to policy makers and practitioners in various sectors.

The workshop included presentations on issues as diverse as the links between biodiversity and emerging infectious disease; the value of greenspace and ourdoor recreation to physical fitness, mental health and social cohesion; the influence of landscape on attitudes to place; and the long term health effects of unsustainable land use and development planning. Participants engaged in a number of working groups to discuss how the evidence base for the links between biodiversity, ecosystem services and human health could be strengthened and better communicated to policy makers and the general public. The discussions highlighted the importance of cross-sector collaboration and transdiciplinary approaches to research and policy development, the need for greater involvement of local communities in conservation initiatives, and the need to ensure that links between health and ecosystem services are properly accounted for in strategic land use planning.

The meeting was particularly relevant in the context of the recent publication of the Lawton Review on the status of the U.K.'s ecological network. That report argues for "a step-change in (the U.K.'s) approach to wildlife conservation, from trying to hang on to what we have, to one of large-scale habitat restoration and recreation, under-pinned by the re-establishment of ecological processes and ecosystem services, for the benefits of both people and wildlife." Considering the links between ecosystems and human health will need to be a central factor in any future changes in conservation and land-use strategies.

A report from the NCI meeting will be published by the Natural Capital Initiative and posted here on  the COHAB website in the near future.



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