Watersheds and Human Health

Using Big Data to explore the links between watershed and human health

Watersheds and Human Health

Case studies and anecdotes indicate that trends in natural ecosystems and human health are related but we lack a rigorous understanding of how. In particular, the impact of watershed disturbance on water-borne disease is still poorly understood at a global level. A clearer picture of these links would help improve the health of some of the world’s poorest people while providing a human health case for conserving some of the most important landscapes and seascapes.

The Luc Hoffmann Institute Watersheds and Human Health project is testing a ‘Big Data’ approach to illustrate how the condition and management of watersheds affects human health. These insights will help improve the effectiveness of conservation investments by addressing a social dimension.

The ultimate outcome of this work will be improved capacity for joint analysis of environment and human health implications under the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals. The research team are currently working on a global dataset linking environment and human health usable by the conservation community, a series of scientific papers and a vulnerability analysis for a WWF priority river basin. This project is primarily supported by HEAL (The Planetary Health Alliance), the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and SESYNC.

Main Image: © Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UK

Project partners

Project leaders

Dr Taylor Ricketts (University of Vermont), Dr Brendan Fisher (University of Vermont), Dr Dave Tickner (WWF-UK), Dr Diego Herrera Garcia (EDF), Dr Ranaivo Rasolofoson (University of Vermont) and Dr Louise Gallagher (LHI).

Project development

The original project concept was developed by Taylor Ricketts (University of Vermont) with HEAL funding in collaboration with SESYNC. This LHI sub-project explores opportunities for the Big Data methodology for linking environment and health considerations in the management of WWF priority river basins.

Start date:  1 April 2015
End date : 30 June 2017

Luc Hoffmann InstituteWatersheds and Human Health