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MJA: Why losing Australia’s biodiversity matters for human health- insights from the latest State of the Environment assessment

Only with a healthy planet can we ensure healthy people. Yet while there is increasing understanding about the effects of climate change on our environment and our health, much less is reported about biodiversity loss and its equally disastrous consequences for our health, write Drs Marion Carey, Katherine Barraclough and Ken Winkel.

Main points:

  • Biodiversity is the variability among living organisms and it underpins a huge range of ‘ecosystem services’ that support human life
  • A recent report for the Australian government on the state of our environment found 19% of our ecosystems are showing signs of collapse
  • The two articles in the MJA and MJA Insight+ explore impacts of biodiversity loss on our health, including nutrition, access to clean water, infectious disease control, mental health, biomedical and genetic resources, as well as the wellbeing of First Nations Australians.
  • There is need for recognition of this as a health problem and for urgent action.
  • We can encourage our policymakers to strengthen legislative protections for the environment which have hitherto failed dismally
  • Adequate funding for biodiversity recovery is desperately needed
  • As health professionals, we can advocate for environmental protection for the sake of health
  • We can ensure the health care system is environmentally sustainable and not adding to the risks of climate change and biodiversity loss


Read the two articles published on 17 April 2023:

Why losing Australia’s biodiversity matters for human health: insights from the latest State of the Environment assessment, MJA

Risk to human health from biodiversity loss, MJAInsight+

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