Invasive species costing Australian economy billions: study

Source: Xinhua| 2021-07-30 09:54:26|Editor: huaxia

CANBERRA, July 30 (Xinhua) -- Invasive species have cost Australia hundreds of billions of dollars over recent decades, according to a report.

The study, which was published by Flinders University researchers on Friday, found that invasive pests have cost the economy 390 billion Australian dollars (288.6 billion U.S. dollars) in the last 60 years.

Lead author Corey Bradshaw calculated the economic damage wreaked by invasive species by considering crop or livestock damage and the combined cost of management and eradication strategies including human salaries.

He told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that the 390 billion AUD figure was likely an underestimation.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg," Bradshaw said.

"Because it's really difficult to put monetary costs on things like ecological function, or even bushfire risk."

The study found that feral cats were the most costly individual species, costing 13.5 billion AUD (9.9 billion USD) since the 1960s, followed by rabbits and fire ants.

However, collectively weedy plants were by far the most expensive group examined, with ryegrass, parthenium and ragwort among others causing more than 200 billion AUD (148 billion USD) in economic damage over the 60 years.

In the island state of Tasmania, ragwort, a pasture weed, accounted for 50 percent of invasive species costs.

"That's not a surprise because they affect the agriculture industry mostly, and so there's a big economic incentive to assess how many are out there and report those costs," Bradshaw said.

"All of those costs are borne by the farmers, which then pass on to consumers, and in taxpayer money through government investment."

Bradshaw said that the study was the most up-to-date and expansive of its kind in Australia but conceded there were glaring omissions.

"We couldn't find a single economic assessment for root rot, that widespread and very economically damaging species to both agricultural and ecosystems," he said.

"People often focus on the ecological damage, but they don't provide the economic costs of managing it or trying to eradicate it." Enditem

KEY WORDS: Australia,Invasive Species