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From human to planetary health: Global land-use impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic


The COVID-19 pandemic is likely the most quickly and widely spreading global crisis of our times. Caused by a nature-borne disease, this crisis is introducing a new level of urgency to the global discussion on sustainability and planetary health as illness and death, economic uncertainty and governmental shut-downs reshape agricultural incentives at the global forest margins. PlanetHealth investigates the effects and mechanisms of the COVID-19 crisis on forest dynamics at the global and local level. It combines a global grid-based dataset (5-by-5 km) of high-frequency spatial data on forest outcomes (losses, fires, fragmentation) with spatialized ex-ante COVID-19 exposure measures. Changes in economic incentives across space are measured with global crop suitability maps, global crop price fluctuations, and geocoded survey data to analyze the labor market mechanisms at play. Their effects on natural habitats are expected to be spatially diverse, depending on bio-physical, economic, and political conditions. A channel analysis highlights the transmission effects along industry types (e.g. tourism, services) and household characteristics (e.g. education, female labor participation). PlanetHealth advances the environmental economics sciences by combining geographical and ecological methodologies with quasi-experimental econometric approaches. Relying on modern shift-share designs will allow for a causal quantification and spatialization of COVID-19 impacts on deforestation. Protecting the worlds’ natural forests becomes increasingly valuable as a strategy to safeguard human well-being and health. PlanetHealth will inform such conservation strategies by investigating the dynamic relationship between health, global shocks, and forest losses. Understanding the heterogeneous pathways will generate valuable information for stakeholders who aim to mitigate the environmental effects of the current pandemic and to identify the strategies for tackling future crises.

Call for proposal

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Funding Scheme

MSCA-IF-GF - Global Fellowships


Wilhelmsplatz 1
37073 Gottingen
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 264 669,12

Partners (1)

United States
Colorado Street 601
78701 2982 Austin
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments