What is EcoHealth?
Healthy ecosystems are essential for human health and survival. We all depend on clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, healthy food supplies, green spaces for recreation and contact with wildlife to enrich our lives. There is growing evidence that we gain specific physical and mental health benefits from living in clean, healthy ecosystems and from having access to natural areas and biodiversity.
Conservation Ontario is a co-founder and member of EcoHealth Ontario (EHO), a collaborative of professionals in the fields of public health, watershed management, medicine, education, planning and the environment. These agencies and individuals work together to increase understanding of the relationships between the environment and our own well-being with the aim of protecting important ecosystems and their functions.
Conserving biodiversity is a public health imperative
Conserving biodiversity such as green spaces, forests, wetlands, water resources, plants, insects and wildlife provides direct benefits to our own well-being.
Healthy ecosystems contribute to better air quality and cooler temperatures. Green spaces provide areas for outdoor activities which help to reduce cardiopulmonary diseases, asthma, diabetes, anxiety and depression. Healthy water and soil resources ensure we have safe drinking water and healthy food supplies.
Biodiversity in Ontario faces pressures from climate change, urban sprawl and the impact of our daily lifestyle footprint. A new report from EcoHealth Ontario suggests ways that practitioners and professionals working in conservation, public health, planning, education and other sectors can help to conserve biodiversity. To learn more visit conservebiodiversity.ca.
Benefits of healthy ecosystems
- Reduce smog and pollution by filtering out many airborne pollutants linked to heart disease, respiratory illnesses, diabetes and cancer
- Regulate heat
- Provide green spaces for outdoor activity which helps to improve both our minds and bodies
- Filter sediment, nutrients and pollution, helping to clean our drinking water sources
- Recharge groundwater, which more than 20 per cent of Ontarians rely on for their drinking water
- Provide wetland trails
- Moderate the local climate by absorbing and releasing heat
- Provide sources of drinking water and food
- Support recreation activities such as swimming, fishing and canoeing
- The lakes recycle and purify the water we drink, absorb the waste we produce, provide us with food, fuel, shelter, moderate our climate, nurture our bodies and feed our spirits with their natural beauty
- Important drinking water source for 80 per cent of Ontarians