Research: Forest destruction accelerates disease spread

The destruction of forests around the world accelerates the spread of various diseases. This conclusion was made by a group of scientists from Stanford under the leadership of Professor Laura Bloomfield.

Humanity has transformed more than half of the Earth into agricultural zones. Tropical forests that do not fall into national parks suffer the most – for example, in Africa, they have decreased by 75% over decades.

According to a new study, viruses that can be transmitted from animals to humans, like the one that caused the coronavirus pandemic, will become more common. The main reason for this change is the development of agriculture and deforestation, which are home to many wildlife.

Scientists from Stanford began the study by collecting land-use data from small farmers living near forest debris in Uganda. They combined this information with high-resolution satellite images of the same time period to model how landscape models and individual behavior make certain people more prone to contact with wild animals.

As a result, they found that the strongest predictors of human contact with wild primates were the length of the border of the forest around people’s houses and the frequency with which people went to these forest areas to collect small trees for building material. The search for such trees entails spending more time in the depths of the habitat of wild animals and, in particular, primates.