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HOW PANDEMICS ARE FUELED BY NATURE LOSS
While the exact source of COVID-19 remains unclear, zoonotic diseases like COVID-19 — diseases that originated in animals — are a stark reminder of how people and nature are interconnected. Other serious outbreaks, such as SARS, avian flu, and MERS, were all zoonotic in origin. Animals aren’t to blame for these outbreaks. It’s human activities that encroach unsustainably into wild places and risky interactions with wildlife that create increased risk.
Zoonotic disease spillovers like this occur when a disease jumps from animals—wild or domestic—to humans. Any number of interactions can lead to spillover events: a hunter transporting the meat of a wild animal shot in a forest near home, a farmer tending to the family's livestock at forest’s edge, or a vendor selling goods in an urban market.
The “spillover” of a zoonotic disease to a person can occur when a person is bitten by a wild animal; when someone is exposed to feces, blood, or saliva of a wild animal or of a domesticated animal that has been exposed to a wild animal; or simply from breathing aerosolized virus coming from sick animals in a wildlife market or elsewhere.
Most pathogens that inhabit animals pose a minor threat to people. However, novel zoonoses—meaning those which have not been previously identified—are emerging with increasing frequency.
Experts define pandemic hotspots as places where higher concentration of conditions come together to create greater risk for spillover events.  This field of scientific research is still evolving, but research suggests greater risk for zoonotic spillover happens in:
Places with high levels of biodiversity, like the tropics, where large scale deforestation is happening.  
Places where the trade and farming of wild animals is common, putting people and domestic animals in sustained, close contact with wildlife.
Places where the trade and farming of wild animals is common, putting people and domestic animals in sustained, close contact with wildlife. 
Why does there seem to be an occurence of almost 3x more of such spillover events happening in the last 20 to 30 years? What is different now?
The answer to this question may be found by better understanding our changing relationship with nature. As humans push into the last blocks of natural habitats, especially tropical forests, we encounter more and more novel viruses and pathogens that may be a risk to people. People settling and working in newly opened forests interact with these new diseases.
Expanding agriculture, expanding human settlements, and global market pressures are leading to increasing deforestation and conversion of habitats. And, deforestation and conversion are more likely to occur in places where there is a growing expansion of road networks. 
Failure to address the persistent challenges regarding high-risk wildlife trade, deforestation, and expansion of agriculture into areas of wildlife habitat has clear human health risks from future zoonotic outbreaks.
While we may not be able to pinpoint the exact spot where the next spillover event is going to happen, we are able to identify the combination of factors that increases risk.
The time to act is now.
Protect and respect nature.
Look after our health.
And protect our family.
Back to Wild
 https://mol.org/patterns/richnessrarity Species richness data summarized from Map of Life, more detailed information available at www.mol.org.
 Estrada-Peña, A., Ostfeld, R.S., Peterson, A.T., Poulin, R. & de la Fuente, J. (2014). Effects of environmental change on zoonotic disease risk: an ecological primer. Trends in Parasitology, 30, 205–214.
 Rohr, J. R., Barrett, C. B., Civitello, D. J., Craft, M. E., Delius, B., DeLeo, G. A., Hudson, P. J., Jouanard, N., Nguyen, K. H., Ostfeld, R. S., Remais, J. V., Riveau, G., Sokolow, S. H., & Tilman, D. (2019). Emerging human infectious diseases and the links to global food production. Nature Sustainability, 2, 445– 456.
 (Faust et al., 2018; Gibb et al., 2020; Gillespie & Chapman, 2006). As pulled from https://www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gcb.15508
 (Jones et al. 2013)
 Pacheco, P., Mo, K., Dudley, N., Shapiro, A., Aguilar-Amuchastegui, N., Ling, P.Y., Anderson, C. and Marx, A. 2021. Deforestation fronts: Drivers and responses in a changing world. WWF, Gland, Switzerland
 Hong-Ying Li, Guang-Jian Zhu, Yun-Zhi Zhang, Li-Biao Zhang, Emily A Hagan, Stephanie Martinez, Aleksei A Chmura, Leilani Francisco, Hina Tai, Maureen Miller, Peter Daszak, A qualitative study of zoonotic risk factors among rural communities in southern China, International Health, Volume 12, Issue 2, March 2020, Pages 77–85, https://doi.org/10.1093/inthealth/ihaa001