What is a biological invasion? This is the case when species are intentionally or accidentally introduced into previously unoccupied regions. Invasive species are the great fear of millions of farmers. But not only that. They can damage critical national infrastructure and endanger human health. How much damage have invasive species caused? Analysis quantifies it.
The severe economic damage over the past half century reached $ 1.28 trillion. The research is published in the journal Nature and shows this very high number. They underline the importance of coping with the rapid rise in spending. They totaled $ 162 billion in 2017. It is projected to rise to $ 1 trillion in the coming years due to increased biological invasions. And COVID-19 wasn’t included.
The main author is Christophe Diagne from the University of Paris-Saclay. “There’s a constant increase of three times a decade,” he says. “The average costs in 2017 exceed the gross domestic product of 50 countries on the African continent. They are more than 20 times higher than the combined funds for WHO and the United Nations combined,” he adds.
Biological invasions are increasingly exacerbated by globalization and climate change. No government is ready to face the crisis without substantial costs. The costs double approximately every 6 years. It’s a pattern that mimics the continued increase in exotic species around the world.
They are the second leading cause of species extinction. However, the public and decision-makers are not aware of this.
‘The trend can be explained by a combination of factors. There is the current intensification of trade and transportation. Also the growing “land grab” of the planet’s surface. Our societies are sensitive to the effects of these invasions.
Knowing how much damage invasive species have done economically should serve as a starting point. It will continue to cause losses if governments fail to coordinate international risk reduction policies.
“That is why we ask for international political agreements. This is the only way we can reduce the burden of invasive species, “they add.