The economic cost of protecting islands from invasive alien species

Thomas Bodey* (Corresponding Author), Elena Angulo, Alok Bang, Céline Bellard, Jean Fantle-Lepczyk, Anna J. Turbelin, Yuya Watari, Franck Courchamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biological invasions represent a key threat to insular systems and have pronounced impacts across environments and economies. The ecological impacts have received substantial focus, but the socioeconomic impacts are poorly synthesized across spatial and temporal scales. We used the InvaCost database, the most comprehensive assessment of published economic costs of invasive species, to assess economic impacts on islands worldwide. We analyzed socioeconomic costs across differing expenditure types and examined temporal trends across islands that differ in their political geography—island nation states, overseas territories, and islands of continental countries. Over US$36 billion in total costs (including damages and management) has occurred on islands from 1965 to 2020 due to invasive species’ impacts. Nation states incurred the greatest total and management costs, and islands of continental countries incurred costs of similar magnitude, both far higher than those in overseas territories. Damage-loss costs were significantly lower, but with qualitatively similar patterns across differing political geographies. The predominance of management spending differs from the pattern found for most countries examined and suggests important knowledge gaps in the extent of many damage-related socioeconomic impacts. Nation states spent the greatest proportion of their gross domestic products countering these costs, at least 1 order of magnitude higher than other locations. Most costs were borne by authorities and stakeholders, demonstrating the key role of governmental and nongovernmental bodies in addressing island invasions. Temporal trends revealed cost increases across all island types, potentially reflecting efforts to tackle invasive species at larger, more socially complex scales. Nevertheless, the already high total economic costs of island invasions substantiate the role of biosecurity in reducing and preventing invasive species arrivals to reduce strains on limited financial resources and avoid threats to sustainable development goals.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14034
Number of pages14
JournalPeople and Nature
Issue number2
Early online date29 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Open Access via the Wiley Agreement
This 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-Belmont Forum Project “Alien Scenarios” (BL: FWF project no. I 4011-B32). The authors also acknowledge the French National Research Agency (ANR-14-CE02-0021) and the BNP-Paribas Foundation Climate Initiative for funding the InvaCost project and enabling the construction of the database, with particular thanks to C. Diagne. T.W.B. acknowledges funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship (grant 747120). J.F.L. thanks the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences for travel support to attend the InvaCost workshop. Funding for E.A. came from the AXA Research Fund Chair of Invasion Biology of the University of Paris Saclay. We also thank J. Albers and 2 anonymous reviewers and for their comments that strengthened this manuscript.


  • biodiversity
  • economic impact
  • government
  • InvaCost
  • overseas territory
  • political geography
  • socioeconomic
  • biodiversidad
  • geografía política
  • gobierno
  • impacto económico
  • socioeconómico


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