A new analysis has revealed the serious economic damages of 1.28 trillion dollars caused by the invasive species of the world in the last half century.
A group of world experts warns that damage and management costs will skyrocket unless biodiversity organisms can improve the prevention and control of biological invasions.
The research, published in the scientific journal ‘Nature’, shows that invasive species have damaged crop yields, critical national infrastructures and human health, and diverted billions of dollars from taxpayers each year, but are it is doing very little because its impact is not well recognized by decision makers and the public.
Biological invasions occur when species of animals, plants, and pathogens are deliberately or accidentally introduced into regions not previously occupied by these species.
The researchers analyzed thousands of cost estimates and used models to calculate the $26.8 billion annual losses between 1970 and 2017 caused by invasive species.
They highlight the importance of coping with the rapid increase in expenses, which amounted to 162,000 million dollars in 2017, and that are expected to rise to the trillion in the coming years due to the increase in biological invasions. Emerging diseases, such as COVID-19, were not included in these already staggering numbers.
Lead author Dr Christophe Diagne of the Paris-Saclay University in France says that he and his colleagues have created a reliable and standardized catalog of the economic costs caused by biological invasions to help clarify the importance of policy. effective management plans in the future.
“This trillion dollar bill shows no sign of slowing down, with a consistent increase of three times a decade,” he says.
“Our annual global estimates represent the enormous economic burden, with an average cost exceeding the gross domestic product of 50 countries on the African continent in 2017, and is more than 20 times the total funds available to the World Health Organization and the UN together,” he adds.
Professor Corey Bradshaw of Flinders University in Australia says that biological invasions are increasingly exacerbated by globalization and climate change, but no government is prepared to manage the crisis without considerable costs.
“We found that costs double roughly every 6 years, a pattern that mimics the continued increase in the number of alien species around the world,” he notes.
Despite their devastating ecological impacts – they are the second leading cause of species extinction – the public and decision makers remain unaware of the threats of biological invasions.
“With this study, we hoped that the realization of the significant economic costs that they also cause would raise awareness,” adds Franck Courchamp, project manager.
“The global costs of invasive alien species are so huge that we spent months checking our models and this global estimate, to make sure we weren’t exaggerating,” explains Christophe Diagne, first author of the paper.
“The trend can be explained by a combination of factors, the current intensification of global trade and transport creates many more opportunities for invasions, the increasing land grab of the planet’s surface, for example, the expansion of agriculture and infrastructure makes our societies sensitive to the impacts of these invasions.”
The researchers say that biological invasions should become an important factor when deciding on transnational projects.
One of the more contemporary examples is China’s ambitious ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, which will open avenues for the introduction of new species around the world.
The multidisciplinary team of researchers from the Université Paris-Saclay, the Museu National d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris, the Université de Montpellier, the University of South Bohemia and the University of Flinders warn that costs, both in developed economies and in those that are developing are exploding, and will continue to do so unless governments coordinate effective international policies to reduce risks.
“That is why we are calling for international political agreements to reduce the burden of invasive species,” adds Professor Bradshaw.