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Economic and Social Impacts

The economic and social impacts of invasive species include both direct effects of a species on property values, agricultural productivity, public utility operations, native fisheries, tourism, and outdoor recreation, as well as costs associated with invasive species control efforts. A 2005 study estimated that the economic damages associated with invasive species in the United States reached approximately $120 billion/year (FWS 2012).

Examples of species with agricultural impacts include leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula), a plant that was introduced to the United States in the late 1800s and has since invaded large areas of the Great Plains Region, decreasing the grazing capacity for livestock (Leistritz et al. 2004), and the pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella), an insect that was recently eradicated from the U.S. and has caused severe economic losses to cotton farmers in Arizona and California due to reduced yields, decreased quality, and increased control costs (Henneberry and Naranjo 1998).

Examples of non-agricultural economic impacts include zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha), which block intake pipes for power generation and water treatment facilities, and sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), which can reduce the populations of commercially significant fish species through predation (Rosaen et al. 2016).

Citations
 
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Spotlights

  • Global Invasive Species Programme.
    Invasive alien species are more often than not pigeon-holed as an environmental or biodiversity issue, and consequently – especially in developing countries – do not receive due recognition by policy-makers. Yet the reality is that they are a major threat to human livelihoods, especially to agriculture and therefore food security, and are generally undermining human well-being. Moreover, ongoing globalisation and increasing trade are escalating the problem to critical proportions. We hope that this booklet will contribute towards a better understanding of these links and to placing invasive species firmly on the development agenda. See also: GISP Publications and Reports for more resources
  • National Invasive Species Council Secretariat.
    To better understand the impacts of invasive species on infrastructure managed by the federal government an effort was undertaken by the National Invasive Species Council Secretariat to solicit feedback from those agencies. A questionnaire was sent out to the federal agencies that manage infrastructure to identify the impacts they have observed, how they are managing them, issues they have identified and resource needs. The research demonstrated that impacts from invasive species on federally managed infrastructure range from non-existent to significant. Identified gaps needing improvement include awareness and education of invasive species impacts, limited resources, insufficient policy, and lack of agency support. See also: NISC and NISC Secretariat Products for more resources
  • DOI. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    The negative consequences of invasive species are far-reaching, costing the United States billions of dollars in damages every year. Compounding the problem is that these harmful invaders spread at astonishing rates. Such infestations of invasive plants and animals can negatively affect property values, agricultural productivity, public utility operations, native fisheries, tourism, outdoor recreation, and the overall health of an ecosystem.
  • Weed Science Society of America.
    What losses would corn and soybean growers experience if they were forced to eliminate herbicides and other control techniques from their weed management toolbox? A team of experts with the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) found that in the U.S. and Canada, about half of both crops would be lost to uncontrolled weeds, costing growers about $43 billion annually.

Selected Resources

The section below contains selected highly relevant resources for this subject, organized by source. To view all related content for this subject, click on "View all resources for subject" in the top left of this page.

Council or Task Force

Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. Washington Invasive Species Council.
National Invasive Species Council.
California Invasive Plant Council.
Oregon Sea Grant; Oregon State University; DOC. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
Prepared for the Oregon Invasive Species Council. See also: Strategic Plans, Action Plans, and Annual Reports for more resources

Partnership

Great Britain Non-native Species Secretariat; Scottish Government.
The financial cost of non-native species has been published in a new report. "The Economic Cost of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) to the British Economy" suggests that invasive species cost 1.7 billion pounds every year. The research was conducted by the international scientific organization CABI for the Scottish Government, Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government and breaks down the effect on each country. It indicates that the economic cost of INNS can be wide ranging and can result in the loss of crops, ecosystems and livelihoods. The cost to the agriculture and horticulture sector alone is estimated to be 1 billion pounds across Britain. See Great Britain Non-native Species Secretariat - Reports for the full report and supporting document.

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (South Africa); Global Invasive Species Programme.

See also: GISP Publications and Reports for more resources

Federal Government

USDA. Forest Service.
Holmes, Thomas P.; Aukema, Juliann E.; Von Holle, Betsy; Liebhold, Andrew; Sills, Erin. 2009. Economic impacts of invasive species in forest past, present, and future. In: The Year In Ecology and Conservation Biology, 2009. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1162:18-38.
USDA. FS. Northern Research Station.
USDA. National Agricultural Statistics Service.
In 2016 NASS began to collect data on honey bee health and pollination costs. Provides reliable, up-to-date statistics help track honey bee mortality.

Academic

University of Alaska Anchorage. Institute of Social and Economic Research.