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Conserving Biodiversity:  A Public Health Imperative 

Conserving biodiversity is important for our health and well-being because nature provides us with multiple benefits that we rely on every day.  

Conserving Biodiversity: A Public Health Imperative is a new report from EcoHealth Ontario that compiles information about the essential health benefits provided by biodiversity. You can view highlights from the report and read it in full at conservebiodiversity.ca

Better air quality, cooler temperatures and outdoor activities help to reduce cardiopulmonary diseases, asthma, diabetes, anxiety and depression. Healthy water and soil resources ensure we have safe drinking water and healthy food supplies.

Biodiversity in Ontario faces pressures from climate change, urban sprawl and the impact of our daily lifestyle footprint. This report suggests ways that practitioners and professionals working in conservation, public health, planning, education and other sectors can help to conserve biodiversity.

Greenspace and Ecohealth Toolkit: Improving Health and Wellbeing Through Greenspace Provision, Design, and Access 

This toolkit includes a series of profiled case studies drawn from municipalities, public health and conservation agencies that have begun to make connections between greenspace and community health. There are numerous examples across Ontario where municipalities and their partners have recognized the need for a healthy built environment. There are many opportunities to expand that scope and advance ecohealth in ways that systemically address greenspaces and ecological systems in our communities.

The purpose of this Toolkit is to provide resources, guidance and assistance to those interested in making lasting improvements in community health through greenspace provision, access, and design.

Latornell Conservation Symposium 2015

EcoHealth Ontario webcasts from the 2015 Latornell Conservation Symposium can be streamed here.

On 18th November 2015, EcoHealth Ontario hosted two sessions at the Latornell Symposium on Understanding Human Ecology. The first session featured new research that clearly demonstrates the connections between green space and human health and the basis for positive change. EHO Co-chairs Pegeen Walsh (Ontario Public Health Association) and Mike Puddister (Credit Valley Conservation) introduced The What and Why of EcoHealth Ontario. EHO Steering Committee member Marianne Kingsley (Toronto Public Health) spoke about the findings of two recent reports in a presentation on Green space, health and well-being: a review and Green space, air quality and heat: a review. 

The second session featured a panel discussion that provided a wide range of perspectives on the challenges and opportunities that agencies face in putting ecohealth science into practice and what new initiatives are being developed. The panel members Moderator Kim Gavine, (Conservation Ontario), Helen Doyle (York Region Community and Health Services), Paul Ronan (Ontario Parks Association), Bill Kilburn (Back to Nature Network), Mark Pajot (Region of Peel), and Deanna Cheriton (Toronto and Region Conservation).

Ontario Biodiversity Summit 2015

EcoHealth Ontario hosted a workshop at the Summit, facilitated by Suzanne Barrett (EHO Coordinator), Karen Morrison (Chair of the Ontario Node, Community of Practice in Ecosystem Approaches to Health) and Aryne Sheppard (Senior Engagement Specialist, David Suzuki Foundation). The workshop was entitled Sustaining Life: Biodiversity as a Foundation for Human Health and Well-being. It provided participants with new information on ecohealth linkages based on recent literature reviews undertaken by public health units, academia and environmental groups in Ontario.

This work explores the ways in which green spaces and vegetation affect human health and well-being as well as climate-related challenges such as urban heat islands and air pollution. Participants worked in small groups to brainstorm ways to use human health and well-being arguments to support campaigns for biodiversity. The results of the workshop will be incorporated into EcoHealth Ontario's future work.

Workshop Report (Prepared by Suzanne Barrett) 

EcoHealth Ontario Overview (Suzanne Barrett, EcoHealth Ontario)

Health and Biodiversity: Current Examples (Aryne Sheppard, David Suzuki Foundation)

Biodiversity & Health (Karen Morrison, CoPEH)