Building a synthesis of economic costs of biological invasions in New Zealand

Thomas Bodey, Zachary T. Carter, Phillip J. Haubrock, Ross N. Cuthbert, Melissa J. Welsh, Christophe Diagne, Franck Courchamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Biological invasions are a major component of anthropogenic environmental change, incurring substantial economic costs across all sectors of society and ecosystems. There have been recent syntheses of costs for a number of countries using the newly compiled InvaCost database, but New Zealand—a country renowned for its approach to invasive species management—has so far not been examined. Here we analyse reported economic damage and management costs incurred by biological invasions in New Zealand from 1968 to 2020. In total, US$69 billion (NZ$97 billion) is currently reported over this ∼50-year period, with approximately US$9 billion of this considered highly reliable, observed (c.f. projected) costs. Most (82%) of these observed economic costs are associated with damage, with comparatively little invested in management (18%). Reported costs are increasing over time, with damage averaging US$120 million per year and exceeding management expenditure in all decades. Where specified, most reported costs are from terrestrial plants and animals, with damages principally borne by primary industries such as agriculture and forestry. Management costs are more often associated with interventions by authorities and stakeholders. Relative to other countries present in the InvaCost database, New Zealand was found to spend considerably more than expected from its Gross Domestic Product on pre- and post-invasion management costs. However, some known ecologically (c.f. economically) impactful invasive species are notably absent from estimated damage costs, and management costs are not reported for a number of game animals and agricultural pathogens. Given these gaps for known and potentially damaging invaders, we urge improved cost reporting at the national scale, including improving public accessibility through increased access and digitisation of records, particularly in overlooked socioeconomic sectors and habitats. This also further highlights the importance of investment in management to curtail future damages across all sectors.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13580
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding: This work was funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR-14-CE02-0021) and the BNP-Paribas Foundation Climate Initiative for funding the InvaCost project that allowed the construction of the InvaCost database. The present work was conducted following a workshop funded by the AXA Research Fund Chair of Invasion Biology and is part of the AlienScenario project funded by BiodivERsA and Belmont-Forum call 2018 on biodiversity scenarios. Thomas W. Bodey was funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship (Grant No. 747120). Zachary T. Carter was funded by a New Zealand International Doctoral Research scholarship. Ross N. Cuthbert was funded by Humboldt Fellowship funding from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Christophe Diagne was funded by the BiodivERsA-Belmont Forum Project “Alien Scenarios” (BMBF/PT DLR 01LC1807C). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Licence: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.

Data Availability Statement

The raw data are available in the Supplementary Files.


  • Biosecurity
  • Eradication
  • Invasive Alien Species
  • InvaCost
  • Island
  • Monetary impacts
  • Resource damages and losses
  • socioeconomic sectors


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