On the occasion of the twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 12), Jane Smart, Global Director of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)'s Biodiversity Conservation Group, highlighted the links between the spread of Ebola and biodiversity loss. The Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) have also announced calls and support for research into the links between bushmeat consumption and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Smart emphasized that Ebola is threatening both human and great ape populations and called on the CBD to lead on this issue and explain how an "upstream" approach to protect both human health and biodiversity is important. She proposed that CBD develop a mechanism to facilitate scientific input from the biodiversity and health communities to support actions related to the health of planet.
Smart also noted that the forthcoming IUCN World Parks Congress will address proactive tools for mitigating disease risks, such as the IUCN and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Guidelines on Wildlife Disease Risks Analysis. The Wildlife Health Specialist Group of IUCN's Species Survival Commission and the EcoHealth Alliance are also working on the scientific connections between humans, animals and environmental health.
Likewise, GRASP, in consultation with the GRASP Scientific Commission, is analyzing the most recent information on Ebola and is preparing a review of existing literature in order to discuss possible future response options for reducing the impact of the disease on both humans and great apes. CIFOR, a part of the CGIAR consortium, is calling for and supporting further research on the value chain of the bushmeat trade, which it notes is often illegal and unsustainable.