Do tropical forests provide natural insurance? Evidence on forest ecosystem services and human health from the Brazilian Amazon.
Nature threads the very fabric of human lives in remote forest areas of developing countries. Unfortunately, we do not fully understand how ecosystem services (such as human health benefits) could be secured by conserving that natural capital. Thus, we analyze a rich data set on disease, climate, demography, land uses and conservation policies in the Brazilian Amazon. Unsurprisingly, we find that the health dividends vary across policy levers and that they are small relative to the overall burden of these diseases. However, interventions targeted specifically at preserving biodiversity (strict protected areas) generate health co-benefits. Thus, given a chance, nature does its part for human (health) capital, especially for the poor and politically voiceless.