Building a synthesis of economic costs of biological invasions in New Zealand

Thomas W. Bodey, Zachary T. Carter, Phillip J. Haubrock, Ross N. Cuthbert, Melissa J. Welsh, Christophe Diagne, Franck Courchamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Biological invasions are a major component of anthropogenic environmental change, incurring substantial economic costs across all sectors of society and ecosystems. There have been recent syntheses of costs for a number of countries using the newly compiled InvaCost database, but New Zealand—a country renowned for its approach to invasive species management—has so far not been examined. Here we analyse reported economic damage and management costs incurred by biological invasions in New Zealand from 1968 to 2020. In total, US$69 billion (NZ$97 billion) is currently reported over this ∼50-year period, with approximately US$9 billion of this considered highly reliable, observed (c.f. projected) costs. Most (82%) of these observed economic costs are associated with damage, with comparatively little invested in management (18%). Reported costs are increasing over time, with damage averaging US$120 million per year and exceeding management expenditure in all decades. Where specified, most reported costs are from terrestrial plants and animals, with damages principally borne by primary industries such as agriculture and forestry. Management costs are more often associated with interventions by authorities and stakeholders. Relative to other countries present in the InvaCost database, New Zealand was found to spend considerably more than expected from its Gross Domestic Product on pre- and post-invasion management costs. However, some known ecologically (c.f. economically) impactful invasive species are notably absent from estimated damage costs, and management costs are not reported for a number of game animals and agricultural pathogens. Given these gaps for known and potentially damaging invaders, we urge improved cost reporting at the national scale, including improving public accessibility through increased access and digitisation of records, particularly in overlooked socioeconomic sectors and habitats. This also further highlights the importance of investment in management to curtail future damages across all sectors.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13580
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2022


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