York University partners with CVC to study human and environmental health connections

Martin Bunch

York University will continue its role in a joint research project with the Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) that studies the connection between human health and environmental health.

Funded by the Water, Economics, Policy and Governance Network (WEPGN) in 2013, the project was designed to help CVC explore and report on the status and relationships between ecosystem health and human health and well-being in the Credit River watershed.

Martin Bunch
Martin Bunch

This year, the partnership was cemented with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the purposes of advancing research, education and information on environmental management.

As part of the MOU, CVC donated $25,000 to York University toward the development of a web-based mapping tool that will help communicate and plan for shared environmental and health benefits in the Credit River watershed.

Recently, WEPGN announced close to $94,000 in additional project funding over the next three years to develop a set of scenarios that will demonstrate the impact of conservation actions on the well-being of the watershed’s residents and visitors.

This funding will also be used to assess a relative value of benefits provided by the local environment and natural areas. For example, a woodlot provides benefits that range from improving air quality to providing recreational opportunities for children. This assessment will help ensure that watershed management brings maximum health and well-being benefits to local communities.

According to Martin Bunch of York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, “people often see the environment as something separate from their everyday lives, or something they only interact with on occasion. The environment is all-encompassing and has deep and profound impacts on our health and well-being.”

One important goal of the partnership is to generate knowledge and awareness about these relationships. This information is important for future planning and development decisions at all levels of government.

“Human health and environmental health are intertwined,” said Mike Puddister, deputy CAO for Credit Valley Conservation. “This is something that people in the environmental sector have been aware of, but understanding this relationship and defining it objectively will allow us to incorporate these data into our planning decisions and build healthier communities moving forward.”