Justin Meier and Sam Sinkler
Published 3 years ago.
About a 3 minute read.
Image: Roya Ann Miller/Unsplash
/ This article is sponsored by
Forest Stewardship Council.
Deforestation often increases the proximity of bats and other animals to humans, bringing together species that would not otherwise live together and creating a
perfect storm for the creation of new zoonotic diseases.
Zoonotic diseases — diseases spread from animals to humans — have long been
a source of new human diseases, recently sparking Severe Acute Respiratory
Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome
(MERS), Ebola and the current COVID-19
pandemic. Sixty percent
of novel infectious diseases originate in
animals and can
be highly contagious and dangerous. Despite advancements in medical technology
that improve disease treatment outcomes, the incidence of zoonotic emerging
infectious diseases and their potential for pandemic have increased. In part,
this is tied to increased contact between our growing human population and wild
animals. As a result of the alarming pandemic we face today, deforestation is
now a more apparent problem than ever — and forest protection solutions such as
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) are finding
themselves in the spotlight.
Many scientists hypothesize that our increased and sudden proximity to
previously wild areas — and the deforestation, habitat degradation,
and other ecological effects that accompany our encroachment — will continue
to be primarily responsible for the emergence of deadly, novel zoonotic
diseases. Deforestation often brings together a high biodiversity of wildlife
with humans and their domesticated livestock; in fact, deforestation often
increases the biodiversity of bats and other animals near humans, bringing
together species that would not otherwise live together and creating a perfect
storm for the creation of new
Other mammals may also be infected by or carry them, and species interaction at
the edges of human population expansion represents the most likely breeding
grounds for disease spillover. Thus, as indicated in the
and the now-hit 2011 movie
we will likely continue to face dangerous epidemics — primarily resulting from
deforestation and related effects of population expansion.
Given the clear link between deforestation and novel disease emergence, the role
of organizations such as FSC in promoting responsible forest management is more
important than ever. FSC strongly discourages deforestation and
while acknowledging that global ecosystems face increased pressure
from conversion. Recognizing that strong economic and financial motivations for
deforestation exist across the globe, FSC’s market-based
addresses deforestation by establishing financial incentives for sustainable
As the certification choice for thousands of businesses and many governments
worldwide, the power of certification to stem potentially
dangerous deforestation is growing. FSC is already a leader and the global
standard in forest
certification, providing a
key framework for combatting deforestation through a market incentive for
environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable
management of the world’s forests. FSC Principles and
Criteria focus on
stable, long-term commitment to the world’s forests. By requiring owners of
FSC-certified forests to make long-term commitments to the wellbeing of their
forest, they ensure that forest managers plan for the economic viability of
perpetual forest operations. The strength of this framework is bolstered by the
Policy for Association of Organizations with
which curtails association with businesses directly or indirectly involved in
deforestation via illegal logging and/or destruction of high conservation values
in forests (e.g., rare and threatened wildlife habitat).
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It will be some time before the world can estimate the full economic cost of
COVID-19, both in terms of human life and lost economic activity. However, as
increased pressure on the world’s ecosystems increases, so do market incentives
for economically viable conservation. Perhaps one side effect of this novel
disease will be more, and improved, novel approaches to forest conservation.
Published Apr 15, 2020 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.