Identification of best practices for biodiversity recovery and public health interventions to prevent future epidemics and pandemics
The EU-funded project BEPREP aims to prevent future pandemics by studying and identifying best practices for biodiversity recovery and public health interventions that mitigate disease risk.
Epidemics and pandemics - most of them caused by zoonotic and vector-borne emerging diseases - are globally threatening our health and welfare at an alarming pace. Prevention of future disease outbreaks will be pivotal to securing human welfare. “Biodiversity-is-good-for-our-health” has become a new paradigm in disease risk mitigation. Consequently, nature restoration targeting biodiversity recovery - isolated or in combination with public health interventions - has been identified as a major disease risk mitigation tool.
The BEPREP project will fill this lack of knowledge and provide practical guidance. In spatially and temporally replicated field studies and experiments in 11 case studies in Europe and the tropics, the project aims to reveal the causal mechanisms of infection dynamics and how to interrupt infection pathways.
Epidemics and pandemics – most of them caused by zoonotic and vector-borne emerging diseases – are threatening our health and welfare at an alarming pace. Prevention of future disease outbreaks will be pivotal to health security and requires fundamental transformative change. It calls for a continuum of surveillance using the One Health approach, connecting human, animal and environmental health. The change is necessary for terms of land use, protection and recovery of biodiversity, ecosystem health, and working with local communities to implement environmental public health interventions and surveillance. Nature restoration towards increased biodiversity and reintroduction of predators are assumed to contribute to ecosystem health and mitigate disease risk. Empirical research on the link between nature restoration/conservation and disease risk, especially during the transition phase, is, however, largely lacking and urgently needed.
BEPREP aims to elucidate the role of undisturbed and restored biodiversity in mitigating threats to health security from zoonotic and vector-borne diseases along the infect-shed-spill-spread cascade1, in order to identify best practices of nature restoration, including rewilding, and public health interventions. Thus, BEPREP will provide new impetus for strengthened disease surveillance, preparedness and response at the European and global scales.
BEPREP involves first-class scientists from academia, governmental institutions and NGOs within the EU: SLU (SE), JYU (FI), LU (UK), UMU (SE), INRAE (FR), RIVM (NL), UFBA (BR), UA (BE), TRAFFIC (UK), FLI (DE), FEM (IT) and beyond the EU: SUA (TZ), UNIKIS (CD) and CES (CO). BEPREP is coordinated by the University of Helsinki (Finland).
Role of RIVM
RIVM has an important role in the detection of tick-borne pathogens, collected within the BEPREP project. Project coordination at RIVM by Miriam Maas.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme for "Food, Bioeconomy Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment" under grant agreement No 101060568.