Journal Article

Economics of invasive species policy and management

Mar 16, 2017 | Rebecca Epanchin-Niell


This article examines the use of economic analysis to inform bioinvasion management, with particular focus on forest resources. Economics is key for understanding invasion processes, impacts, and decision-making. Biological invasions are driven by and affect economic activities at multiple scales and stages of an invasion. Bioeconomic modeling seeks to inform how resources can be optimally allocated across invasion management activities—including prevention, surveillance programs for early detection and management, and controlling invasion populations and spread—to minimize the long-term costs and damages. Economic analysis facilitates understanding of decisions by public and private decision-makers, gaps between these, and the design of policies to achieve socially desirable outcomes. Private decision-makers may undercontrol invasions relative to socially optimal levels, because they generally account for their own costs and benefits of control but less often for broader ecosystem impacts or future spread across the landscape. Economic analysis considers approaches for increasing private invasion management and evaluates feedbacks between ecological and economic systems that can affect policy outcomes. Future research should continue evaluation and design of control strategies across the biosecurity continuum and across species to enhance cost-effectiveness, better incorporate uncertainty into policy design, increase focus on incentives and behavioral tools to influence private behaviors that affect invasion spread, and incorporate invasive species consideration within broader systems-focused science. In addition, challenges in valuing biodiversity and ecosystem service impacts and the costs and effectiveness of control measures are key data gaps. Greater collaboration between decision-makers and researchers will facilitate development and communication of usable economic research.