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

Project description

Protecting forests during a pandemic

Protecting our natural forests is important to safeguarding human well-being and health. It can also prevent future pandemics. The case of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a heightened level of urgency as regards planetary health, is taking a heavy toll on our forests. The EU-funded PlanetHealth project will explore the effects and mechanisms of the COVID-19 crisis on forest dynamics. For instance, changes in economic incentives are measured with global crop suitability maps, global crop price fluctuations and geocoded survey data. Project findings will shed light on the impact of COVID-19 on deforestation. The project’s results will assist conservation strategies by investigating the dynamic relationship between health, global shocks and forest losses.

Objective

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.

Coordinator

GEORG-AUGUST-UNIVERSITAT GOTTINGEN STIFTUNG OFFENTLICHEN RECHTS
Net EU contribution
€ 264 669,12
Address
WILHELMSPLATZ 1
37073 Gottingen
Germany

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Region
Niedersachsen Braunschweig Göttingen
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 264 669,12

Partners (1)