COVID-19 has devastated global communities and economies. The pandemic has exposed socioeconomic disparities and weaknesses in health systems worldwide. Long-term health effects and economic recovery are major concerns. Ecosystem restoration—ie, the repair of ecosystems that have been degraded—relates directly to tackling the health and socioeconomic burdens of COVID-19, because stable and resilient ecosystems are fundamental determinants of health and socioeconomic stability. Here, we use COVID-19 as a case study, showing how ecosystem restoration can reduce the risk of infection and adverse sequelae and have an integral role in humanity's recovery from COVID-19. The next decade will be crucial for humanity's recovery from COVID-19 and for ecosystem repair. Indeed, in the absence of effective, large-scale restoration, 95% of the Earth's land could be degraded by 2050. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–30) declaration reflects the growing urgency and scale at which we should repair ecosystems. Importantly, ecosystem restoration could also help to combat the health and socioeconomic issues that are associated with COVID-19, yet it is poorly integrated into current responses to the disease. Ecosystem restoration can be a core public health intervention and assist in COVID-19 recovery if it is closely integrated with socioeconomic, health, and environmental policies.
The Lancet Planetary Health, Volume 6, September 2022,