Review: the impact of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on wildlife : with a focus on Europe

Buij, R.; Bugter, R.J.F.; Henkens, R.J.H.G.; Moonen, S.; Jones-Walters, L.M.; Grift, E.A. van der


The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in large-scale restrictions in human activities globally, with drastic, sudden, and widespread confinement of people to their homes during lockdowns. These have led to significant reductions in road-, water- and air traffic, the closing of national parks and other protected areas, and restricted access or the closing off of other areas in the countryside (such as viewpoints, lakesides, country parks, monuments, etc) that in normal times are popular meeting places or visitor locations. As Europe faced lockdowns of varying degrees of intensity, many anecdotal stories were shared about the apparently changing behaviour and distribution of wildlife, often in the popular press and on social media. An opportunity has, therefore, presented itself for us to examine the impact, positive or negative, of changes in human presence and activities, including; human density, light, noise, and pollution, on wildlife. In addition, the situation has provided the potential for a change in human perceptions of nature, and the value that it provides in times of restricted human contact, increased confinement and enforced changes in (human) behaviour. While it is not the main purpose of this document, we have noted that the maintenance or restoration of healthy ecosystems may help to prevent zoonoses from occurring, or may mitigate their impact in relation to both regulating human- to-human disease transfer and the management of future disease outbreaks. We have reviewed existing literature and references to data compilation linked to monitoring and other activities related to wildlife in the pandemic to explore what the effect of the COVID-19 measures have been on wildlife, including how people have benefited from nature, with a focus on Europe.