Reducing land use-induced spillover risk by fostering landscape immunity: policy priorities for conservation practitioners

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Jamie Reaser, Brookline E. Hund, Manuel Ruiz-Aravena, Gary M. Tabor, Jonathan Alan Patz, Daniel Becker, Harvey Locke, Peter Hudson, Raina Plowright


Anthropogenic land use change is the major driver of zoonotic pathogen spillover from wildlife to humans. In response to the global spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the agent of COVID-19 disease), there have been renewed calls for landscape conservation as a disease preventive measure. While protected areas are a vital conservation tool for wildlands, more than 50% of habitable land is now human-modified and thus requires strategic, site-based measures to prevent land use-induced spillover, especially by managing landscape immunity and the dynamics of animal-human proximity. Crisis is a conversation starter for reimagining and recommitting ourselves to what is most vital and generative. Here we provide a brief overview of zoonotic spillover concepts and dynamics from a conservation practitioner perspective and outline a landscape-oriented policy agenda to minimize the risk of future large-scale zoonoses outbreaks. Among other things, we need to recognize human health as a vital ecological service, ensure ecological resilience, and facilitate public investment in biosecurity to sustain economic viability and human well-being. Landscape management approaches to spillover risk reduction are part of a toolkit that includes ecological, veterinary, and medical interventions, disease surveillance, and wildlife trade policy measures.



Animal Sciences, Animal Studies, Biodiversity, Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Studies, Forest Sciences, Immunity, Immunology and Infectious Disease, Immunology of Infectious Disease, Immunopathology, International and Area Studies, Life Sciences, Medicine and Health Sciences, Parasitology, Population Biology, Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration, Science and Technology Studies, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Systems Biology


COVID-19, emerging infectious disease, human health, land management, landscape conservation, landscape immunity, protected areas policy, SARS-CoV-2, wildlife disease, zoonoses


Published: 2020-10-15 16:09


CC-By Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International