The Center for Human Health Risk at Hollings Marine Laboratory seeks to understand
and forecast relationships between coastal ecosystems and human health and well-being.
As we improve coastal and marine spatial planning, it is imperative that we recognize
that humans and their social systems are an integral part of coasts, estuaries and
One Ecosystem/One Health
Recognizing the challenges and complexities facing decision-makers who are responsible
for managing our nation’s coasts, estuaries and oceans for human health and well-being,
it makes sense to consider coastal questions within an inclusive framework. Questions
such as: Can we safely swim in the water? Do we enjoy the view at the waterfront?
Can we eat the seafood? Is there a place to launch our boat? Is it safe and healthy
to live beside this creek? Do I have a sense of place? All of these questions have
social, psychological, biological, physical and human health components.
As coastal populations rapidly increase, the need for ecosystem services increases
even as the built environment challenges the services that ecosystems can provide.
Healthy coastal ecosystems provide food and fiber, regulation of climate, water
and disease, cultural opportunities and supporting services such as primary production
and soil formation, all vital to human health and well-being. The
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment appraised the overall conditions
and trends of the worlds ecosystems and provided a scientific basic for action.
Identifying and placing value on services requires an understanding of human needs
Our mission is to support coastal managers and other decision-makers with
scientific information and tools needed to balance society’s environmental, social,
and economic goals in mitigating and adapting to ecosystem stressors. The Center
for Human Health Risk partners with other organizations and agencies to conduct
human dimensions research and analysis and to develop integrated research approaches
in the following areas:
To determine the value that people put on places and the ecosystem services they
provide it is important to model the linkages between the services and components
of well-being such as human economic needs, basic needs, environmental needs and
social needs. This information will provide decision-makers with a valuation of
benefits and loss to be used in making land use decisions.
Sentinel habitats provide a first indicator of environmental change due to large
influences such as climate or local influences such as small scale change in land
use. Understanding the human interactions or social similarities with sentinels
will help us better predict changes to human health and well-being.