Indigenous forests prevent 15 million yearly cases of disease

Baku, April 10, AZERTAC
A new study published in the journal Communications, Earth & Environment reveals that the Amazon rainforest and its Indigenous territories can absorb up to 26,000 metric tons of dangerous pollutants released by fires each year. This prevents thousands of cases of deadly respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and significantly reduces healthcare costs in some of the region’s most deforested cities.
The research team analyzed a decade of data and found that each hectare of burning forest costs cities at least US$2 million for treating associated illnesses. However, Indigenous forests can prevent an estimated 15 million cases of respiratory and cardiovascular disease every year, which would otherwise cost the healthcare system US$2 billion. Additionally, heavily forested Indigenous lands are protecting urban and rural populations in the “arc of deforestation,” the southeastern region of the rainforest that has lost the most forest cover to agroindustry and other legal and illegal activities.
“Worldwide, forests are known for absorbing pollutants from fires through pores on the surface of the leaves, but this is the first time we have estimated the capacity of tropical forests to do this,” said study lead author Dr. Paula Prist, a research scientist at the EcoHealth Alliance. “Our results indicate that the Amazon rainforest can absorb as much as 26,000 metric tons of the particles every year, and Indigenous territories are responsible for 27% of this absorption, while covering only 22 percent of the rainforest.”
The findings were released just days before President Lula completes his first 100 days in office. The study could add urgency to the Brazilian leader’s promise to recognize and enforce the land rights of Indigenous peoples, already proven to play an outsize role in reducing the deforestation and biodiversity loss in the Amazon.
Study co-author Dr. Florencia Sangermano is an expert in the use of geospatial analysis and satellite remote sensing to evaluate changes in the earth system, and to assess their effect on ecosystems and biodiversity.


Healthcare 2023-04-10 16:19:00