What do the birds in your backyard have in common with your great aunt? What about an infectious disease and the new development being built across the way? More than you think!
The different plants, animals, and landscapes we encounter in our daily life make up our world’s natural resources. This variety of life is crucial to the health and sustainability of all species - including our own - supporting our physical, mental, and spiritual health and social well-being.
For this reason, parks and nature, which are fundamental to the preservation of biodiversity, are also crucial for our own health. The idea that the health of humans, animals, and the environment are related is referred to as One Health. Many folks already recognize that we can share some diseases with other species, such as West Nile Virus, but fewer people recognize the importance of healthy ecosystems regulating these diseases and in providing other health benefits.
“One Health is all about recognizing how connected we are to our world and other species, and there's no better place to experience this connection or understand natural resources than national parks,” said Dr. Danielle Buttke, One Health coordinator for the National Park Service.
As a result of this interconnectedness, humans are dependent on biodiversity – from the food we eat to the air we breathe and beyond. But, increasingly, people have lost touch with our dependence on nature and the practice of One Health hopes to bring us back to it. According to Buttke, exposure to nature can speed healing times, improve memory, and even have the same clinical effect on children with ADHA as medication.
“The more people that understand these benefits of nature, hopefully the more people that will support conservation and nature, whether it be in a local or a national park,” she said.
With all the benefits of interaction with the great outdoors, One Health is a cause for celebration!
“International One Health Day is a chance to think about how you and your loved ones can connect with nature in your daily life, appreciate the benefits it has, and hopefully think about what you can do to help conserve it,” said Buttke.