New Study: Health Benefits to Conservation Policies


Research from Duke University shows that conservation policies aimed at improving the  environment can also improve human health. Researchers estimate 24% of the global burden of disease is due to poor environmental quality. 

More research is needed to see if better environment quality means better health. Analyzed four years of data in the Brazilian Amazon.

  • patterns of disease
  • climate
  • demographics
  • land use
  • conservation policies

Study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
 expanded upon current literature by factoring in the human ecology in disease models.

Study focused on the Brazilian Amazon because of recent rapid changes in land use where substantial conservation efforts in this region.

Study evaluated the impact of conservation factors on malaria, diarrhea, and acute respiratory infections (ARI).


  • Findings suggest strictly protected areas may serve as a barrier to disease transmission
  • This includes parks and reserves
  • Found to reduce the incidence of all three diseases.
  • Mixed evidence on the influence of roads
  • Increased incidences of malaria, but decreased diarrhea and ARI cases.
  • Higher incidence of malaria observed in ‘sustainable use’ protected areas 
  • Roads may have reduced the rates of ARI and diarrhea because they improve access to healthcare
  • Sustainable protected areas may have had higher incidence of malaria because they increase exposure to the mosquitoes that transmit disease 

By protecting and preserving biodiversity, could have double win of public health benefits. Protecting nature to achieve health outcomes.