Researchers say 75% of recently emerging diseases affecting humans came from animals. COVID-19 is believed to originate from bats. And deforestation could make the problem worse.
'It's sort of a probability game,' explains Andrew MacDonald, a disease ecologist at the Earth Research Institute.
In 2019, the tropics lost 11.9 million hectares of tree cover, which means forests are shrinking — often due to farming, livestock, mining and drilling — and ecosystems are disrupted. This increases the risk of diseases jumping from animals to humans.
'Maybe we can plan land use in a way that sustainably balances our needs with conservation of forests,' says MacDonald.