Guest blog by Master Beekeeper ‘in the making’ Greg Long.
When people start to think about the ecosystem and nature as a whole, many don’t fully grasp the importance of relying on other species. Everything on earth is connected, whether we realize it or not. Human survival doesn’t rely on humans alone — the human species depends on tons of other life forms to stay in existence.
Ahead of One Health Day tomorrow (3rd November 2018), Robert Taylor, CABI’s Editorial Director, explores the relationships between human, animal, environmental and plant health…
The ‘One health’ initiative launched in 2007 was designed primarily to break down the barriers between human and veterinary medicine, particularly for dealing with zoonotic diseases. The link between BSE and nvCJD, as well as the threat of new diseases like SARS and threat of old diseases like avian influenza made for a strong case that the health of humans and animals are inter-linked. Since then, ‘One health’ has been expanded to include environmental health as there are many examples of how human activity can harm the health of the environment, and how in turn, a polluted environment adversely affects human health.
By Giuseppe Mazza and Elena Tricarico, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy
Invasive species are becoming a popular topic in newspapers: when articles appear, they mainly report the damages invasive species can cause to our ecosystems (e.g. reduction or disappearance of native species as well as habitat modification) or to our economic activities: fishing or boating can be halted by mats of the South American water hyacinth, several insects can affect our agricultural production or new diseases can be transmitted to reared species. However, these species can also heavily affect human health and wellbeing.
The damage that invasive species can cause to the environment and the economy are well known, but impacts on human health have been much less analysed. However, invasive species can cause impacts ranging from psychological effects, phobias, discomfort and nuisance to allergies, poisoning, bites, disease and even death. Invasives experts Giuseppe Mazza and Elena Tricarico of the University of Florence, Italy say that in addition to these direct effects, some work in more indirect ways. Humans are menaced by alien invasive species affecting the services provided by ecosystems. “These services are vital to our well-being: changes may decrease the availability of drinking water and of products from fisheries, agriculture and forestry, alter pollination and impoverish culture and recreation,” say Mazza and Tricarico.
Dogs, just like humans, can have problems with learning, memory and attention, particularly as they get older. Several tests of cognitive ability in dogs have been used in research with a particular focus on the effects of ageing. What is less well understood is how diseases affect these cognitive abilities. In an article in CAB Reviews, Lena Provoost, Margret Casal and Carlo Siracusa discuss how changes in behaviour, such as loss of appetite, house soiling or changes in sleeping are often the first indicators to the pet’s owners that there is a problem. The team from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania say that while those changes could be caused by mental decline, they could be secondary effects of other medical causes, such as pain from infection swellings or kidney disease.
One of the consequences of the uncontrolled human activities is the possible detrimental effects on animals. Scientists describe animal welfare as the mental and physical wellbeing of the animal with a measure of how the individual copes in its environment and considers opportunities for expressing happiness or pleasure.
Nature-based tourism based on the opportunity to encounter wildlife has evolved so many folds over the years to ecotourism from the previous forms, such as trophy hunting and other primarily recreational interactions, that offer no benefit to the individual or the species that were dubbed predominately exploitative . It is argued that ecotourism contributes, both towards socioeconomic and environmental benefits of the tourism site.