Integration of Ecology and Health Research at the Catchment Scale: The Taieri River Catchment, New Zealand

M. Parkes, R. Eyles, G. Benwell, R. Panelli, C. Townsend, Philip Weinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interest in the relationship between ecosystem change and public health is increasing at global and local scales. This paper presents findings from an integration of ecology and health research at the scale of a river catchment, and examines geographical information systems as a means to integrate across the disciplinary and sector boundaries that characterise ecology and health concerns. The paper draws on findings from the ‘Taieri Catchment and Community Health Project’, a collaborative investigation of the relationship between river catchment management, freshwater ecosystems and public health in a rural river catchment in the South Island of New Zealand. Firstly, informed by an integrated conceptual framework, a series of maps were generated to take stock of existing knowledge resources available for the catchment and to provide an overview of information regarding driving forces, ecosystems, social systems, health indicators and infrastructure. Secondly, primary research was carried out to address knowledge deficits regarding direct links between ecosystems and health (through biophysical studies of the human pathogen Campylobacter) and between ecosystems, social systems and health (through participatory and survey research). The river catchment case study identifies valuable strategies to integrate ecology and health research and encourage a more comprehensive approach to rural and urban environmental health concerns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalJournal of Rural and Remote Environmental Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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