Environment

Tropical Peatland Conservation Could Protect Humans From New Diseases

Conservation of tropical peatlands could reduce the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the likelihood of new diseases jumping from animals to humans, researchers say.

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Conservation of tropical peatlands could reduce the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the likelihood of new diseases jumping from animals to humans, researchers say.

The scientists reviewed existing evidence and concluded the high biodiversity in tropical peat-swamp forests, combined with habitat destruction and wildlife harvesting, created "suitable conditions" for emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) that could jump to humans.

COVID-19 did not emerge in a tropical peatland area – but HIV/AIDS and the joint-first case of Ebola both originated in areas with extensive peatlands.

The study also assessed the possible impact of COVID-19 on tropical peatland conservation and local communities – and identified "numerous potential threats" to both.

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