A new study aims at improving our understanding of the effects of the environment on human Health, by offering a better describer of Land Use and Land Cover data (LULC)
A team of researchers from ICTA-UAB, the Centre de Recerca Matemàtica (CRM) and the Centre Tecnològic Forestal de Catalunya (CTFC) has led a recent study, published in the scientific journal Environmental Research, reviewing several scientific articles and linking detailed benefits to human health with data on land uses and land cover. The results show that we are still far from maximizing the full potential that such data could offer.
“Data on land uses and land cover is a very versatile source of information to study the effects of the environment on human health because, unlike others, it includes the biophysical and socio-economic characteristics of the territory’’ explains Quim Zaldo, main author of the article and member of the Environment and Human Health Lab (EH2 Lab) of the CTFC. ‘’Its strength relies on the fact that, within the same database, information is included about land covers, that is, if we find trees, tarmac, bare ground, water… and on the uses of the soil, that is, the type of human activity carried out in a specific location.’’
”We argue for a methodology that can describe specific categories of land uses and land cover, as living next to the sea or a river, or living next to a pine grove, can have different effects on people’s health’’ says Quim Zaldo, member of the Environment and Human Health Lab (EH2 Lab) of the CTFC.
The study proposes specific categories to classify land use and land covers instead of quantitatively measuring natural elements based on the proportion of green space. As stated by Zaldo “it doesn’t account for its different characteristics, as green is heterogeneous. We argue for a methodology that can describe specific categories of land uses and land cover, as living next to the sea or a river, or living next to a pine grove, can have different effects on people’s health.’’
The research team also offers a set of guidelines for future studies, by reviewing the characterization and tools available to measure the environment and exploring the full potential of using methodologies that include biophysical and socioeconomic information. Additionally, they also urge to make innovative designs that are able to establish causal relationships between the type of ecosystems and human health and to expand the current set of health benefits studied using more complete and reliable health data sources.
ZALDO-AUBANELL, Q., SERRA, I., SARDANYÉS, J., ALSEDÀ, L., MANEJA, R., Reviewing the reliability of Land Use and Land Cover Data in studies relating human health to the environment, Environmental Research, https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1cIag3Ao5vN62