Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, January 22, 2015

Health effects of deforestation to be discussed

The public health effects of deforestation in Indonesia will be discussed in a seminar on Tuesday, January 27, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in room 1199 of Nancy Nicholas Hall, which houses the School of Human Ecology.

Teevrat Garg, a Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University's Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, will present.

Despite growing concern about the effect of environmental degradation on human health, little effort has been made to quantify the effect of ecosystem damage on the incidence and burden of infectious diseases. Using village-level administrative panel data and satellite data on forest cover, Garg finds that deforestation from 2001-2008 in Indonesia can explain 360,000-880,000 additional malaria infections. The evidence is consistent with an ecological response and the effect of deforestation on malaria cannot be explained by post-deforestation land-use change, anti-malarial programs or migration. The effect is specific to malaria, with deforestation having no discernible effect on other diseases with disease ecologies different from that of malaria. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that the local health benefits from avoided deforestation are an order of magnitude higher than the global carbon benefits, underscoring a large, yet previously ignored and unquantified cost of deforestation.

Garg's presentation is part of the La Follette School seminar series. The spring seminar schedule is available online.