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New report on impact of nature and biodiversity on health and wellbeing published

European society faces a range of health and social issues that merit urgent attention. The EU health sector represents 15% of public expenditure and health care costs are expected to increase. The key determinants of health include air pollution and particulate matter, leading to early mortality, heat stress causing exhaustion, heat stroke and mortality particularly in urban areas, low physical activity levels noise pollution, mental disorders, depression and urban demography that are putting enormous strain on health care systems. The report argues that there is robust scientific and practice-based evidence that nature can contribute to addressing the health and social challenges that EU citizens are facing – from access to Natura 2000 sites and other protected areas, to investments in wider green infrastructure. While nature cannot be a remedy to all the challenges of society (e.g. air pollution control will primarily need to address the sources of pollution), there exist untapped opportunities to realise health and social benefits that often come with co-benefits for biodiversity and nature protection. For example, IEEP argues that protected areas and other nature parks are already being recognised as “preventative health care centres” and “health hubs”, with increasing numbers of health related activities taking place in these areas.  It says that nature-based solutions can offer affordable, sustainable, and reproducible benefits across a range of areas affecting public health and social well-being.  The report contains practical examples of the direct and indirect public health benefits from Natura 2000 sites, other protected areas and wider green infrastructure can be found across every EU Member State and at scales ranging from the micro/local level to EU wide.  READ MORE

Issue 50