As people engaged in ecological restoration, conservation planning and regenerative design, we think a lot about connections. We know we wouldn’t be able to enjoy a cup of coffee were it not for pollinators. We know how the journey traveled by a raindrop landing on a city rooftop is linked to elevated nitrogen levels in a nearby estuary. We even draw solid connections between restored ecosystems and economic growth. But how much time do we spend thinking about the connections between our work and public health?

How much do we know about the connections between the ecosystem health and the health and well-being of people? How can we better understand this connection and integrate it more deeply it into our work?

To begin to examine this topic, we talk with three visionaries whose work directly relates to the intersection of ecology and human health. First, we talk with award-winning ecologist and author Sandra Steingraber. Diagnosed with what she calls the “quintessential environmental cancer” at age 20, Sandra is all too familiar with the connection we explore in this issue of Leaf Litter. She takes a personal and scientific look at the links between health, human rights, and the environment, with a focus on chemical contamination.

We also chat with ecological economist Bob Costanza, well known for his groundbreaking attempt to quantify the economic value of the natural world in 1997. Now the Director of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at Portland State University and the founding editor in chief of the journal Solutions  Bob talks about the true economics of well-being, and the role played by ecological function.

We also interview Randy Hester, a landscape architect and sociologist who has blended these disciplines for more than 30 years toward the creation of what he calls “ecological democracy.”

Ecological landscape designer Nicole Stern explores the relationship between water quality and public health.

It would be negligent to discuss the links between ecological and human health without addressing the topic of environmental justice. While this may indeed be the topic of a future issue of Leaf Litter, landscape architect Jennifer Dowdell presents a brief introduction to environmental justice.

We share some links and helpful resources and tell you about the latest Biohappenings.

What are your thoughts? Share them on our blog, Rhizome,  or make a comment on the Biohabitats Facebook page.  If you want to reference a specific article, be sure to include it in your post. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this issue of Leaf Litter. Here’s to your health!

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