The chronology of global viruses has met its most significant proponent in 2020 with COVID-19, bringing economic and healthcare expenses to a new ballpark.
We’ve seen a steady timeline of disease around the globe for the past two decades. Starting with the Nipah disease that derived from displaced fruit bats in Malaysia, to the Chinese SARS virus, followed by the famed Swine Flu, Ebola, and Zika. What all of these diseases have in common is their origin. Be it bats, pigs, or monkeys, in every event the animal that hosted the disease became displaced from their habitat and came in contact with humans.
These “novel” viruses are generally identified as estranged natural occurrences but what’s become evident is their direct correlation with deforestation. Between the production of lumber and massive wildfires that have spread across the United States, Brazil, and Australia, millions of jungle and rainforest acres have been devastated. The animals that inhabited these forests were forced to relocate to more civilian regions. A handful of these animals host diseases that were never exposed to humans prior, making them highly infectious.
Now, we lay in the wake of a pandemic that trumps the cost of any before it. The world has already recorded a $6.6 trillion dollar loss from relief funding in 2020 alone. Moving forward the total impact of COVID is estimated to be $20 trillion.
A new study of pandemics explores the benefits of nature-based preventive strategies moving forward. The results indicate that the current annual investment in the restoration of natural resources is decimal to what it should be. Globally, we currently spend $1 billion a year on forest conservation. The estimates from the study shows that we should be spending upwards of $20 billion annually to see any real impact. That’s below 1% of the total 2020 relief budget that’s been spent in 2020 on COVID.
It's important to note the major role our forests play in Earth's sustainability. Deforestation has taken a tremendous tole on the natural process that our planet takes to keep it livable for humans.
An annual 11 figure investment towards pandemic prevention is a significant number on paper, but it’s decimal to what has been spent thus far on former outbreaks. International alliances should consider the macroeconomic benefit that nature-based preventative strategies will have on the insurance of our global stability moving forward.