The Economics of Biological Invasions

The Economics of Biological Invasions

Edited by Charles Perrings, Mark Williamson and Silvana Dalmazzone

The growth of international trade and travel means that more species are being introduced to more places than ever before. This book represents the first concerted effort to understand the economic causes and consequences of biological invasions. The volume discusses the theoretical and methodological issues raised by invasion, including control strategies, modelling options, and a study of the economic, institutional and policy conditions that predispose countries to biological invasions. Also included are case studies of fisheries, agricultural systems, tropical forests and protected areas affected by invasive species in locations such as the Black Sea, Australia and Africa, and an evaluation of control programmes.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Charles Perrings, Mark Williamson and Silvana Dalmazzone

Subjects: environment, ecological economics


Charles Perrings, Mark Williamson and Silvana Dalmazzone 1 THE PROBLEM OF BIOLOGICAL INVASIONS A large share of the attention attracted by biological invasions has been motivated, until recently, by the impact on crops of alien species that became pests. Living organisms have always been transported beyond their original range; however, because of the enormous growth in the international transport of people and commodities in the last quarter to half a century, invasions now have unprecedented environmental and economic effects. In addition to their impact in terms of forgone output in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, pest control and health care, invasive species have proved to be one of the main drivers behind biodiversity loss in a wide range of ecosystems. The factors that have evolved with them and that control their population and spread in their native range are generally not present in their new habitats. Native species may not possess defence mechanisms that allow them to compete successfully for vital resources and may therefore be driven to extinction. Indeed, invasives are sometimes said to be the second most important cause of biodiversity loss, after habitat destruction (Glowka et al., 1994). They are certainly a major threat on oceanic islands. The extinctions due to cats, rats, goats, the snail Euglandina rosea and the brown tree snake Boiga irregularis are all well known (Williamson, 1996). On continents, the threat of invasives to biodiversity is variable. It is better known in developed countries than developing ones, but Mack (1997) notes invasives affecting whole...