Nature, Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services, and Human Health and Well-being
Biodiversity provides many additional benefits to human health via a variety of pathways beyond its oft-cited roles in the provisioning of food and raw materials to support human life.
Sandifera, Paul A., Sutton-Grierb, Ariana E., and Ward, Bethney P. (2015). Exploring connections among nature, biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human health and well-being: Opportunities to enhance health and biodiversity conservation. Ecosystem Services. 12: 1-15. doi:10.1016/j.ecoser.2014.12.007
In this paper, we explore observed and potential connections among nature, biodiversity, ecosystem services and human health and well-being, through biodiversity–ecosystem services linkages, associations of nature with human health, and recent limited evidence relating biodiversity to some human health outcomes based on a review of selected literature. We concentrated on reported and potential values of exposure to natural elements, ecosystem services, and biodiversity, to human health and well-being. We addressed the following questions: (1) How important is biodiversity to the provision of ecosystem services? (2) Is there convincing evidence that experiencing more natural settings, even briefly or vicariously, can improve psychological and physical health? (3) Does exposure to biodiverse surroundings result in measurable health responses? (4) Can biodiversity provide humans and animals protection from infectious and/or allergic and inflammatory diseases? (5) Is there evidence that experiencing coastal nature or marine biodiversity has health effects?
- Evidence links biodiversity to ecosystem services (ES) and health to nature exposure.
- A few novel studies link biodiversity exposure to improved health and well-being.
- We provide a comprehensive summary of health effects of ES, nature and biodiversity.
- Future research should address causation of health benefits and action mechanisms.
- New multidisciplinary collaborations are needed to enhance health and conservation.