Acknowledging geodiversity in safeguarding biodiversity and human health

Elsevier, The Lancet Planetary Health, Volume 6, December 2022
Alahuhta J., Tukiainen H., Toivanen M., Ala-Hulkko T., Farrahi V., Hjort J. et al.

Our existence on Earth is founded on a vital nature, which supports human physical and mental health. However, nature is often depicted only through biodiversity, whereas geodiversity—the diversity of non-living nature—has so far been neglected. Geodiversity consists of assemblages, structures, and systems of geological, geomorphological, soil, and hydrological components that fundamentally underlie biodiversity. Biodiversity can support overall human health only with the foundation of geodiversity. Landscape characteristics, such as varying topography or bodies of water, promote aesthetic and sensory experiences and are also a product of geodiversity. In this Personal View, we introduce the concept of geodiversity as a driver for planetary health, describe its functions and services, and outline the intricate relationships between geodiversity, biodiversity, and human health. We also propose an agenda for acknowledging the importance of geodiversity in health-related research and decision making. Geodiversity is an emerging topic with untapped potential for ensuring ecosystem functionality and good living conditions for people in a time of changing environments.