The high costs of invasive species

“Species introduced to new regions through human activities are termed alien species. Invasive alien species represent a subset of alien species – animals, plants, and other organisms – known to have established and spread with negative impacts on biodiversity, local ecosystems and species. Some of the most problematic invasive alien species arrive through multiple introduction pathways and repeated introduction.

Invasive alien species are recognized as one of the five major direct drivers of change in nature globally, alongside land- and sea-use change, direct exploitation of organisms, climate change, and pollution.

More than 37,000 established alien species have been introduced by human activities across all regions and biomes of Earth, with new alien species presently being recorded at an unprecedented rate of approximately 200 annually.

Invasive alien species have contributed solely or alongside other drivers to 60 per cent of recorded global extinctions, and are the only driver in 16 per cent of the documented global animal and plant extinctions.

In 2019, global annual costs of biological invasions were estimated to exceed $423 billion. The vast majority of global costs (92 per cent) accrue from the negative impact of invasive alien species on nature’s contributions to people or on good quality of life, while only 8 per cent of that sum is related to management expenditures of biological invasions. The benefits to people that some invasive alien species provide do not mitigate or undo their negative impacts, which include harm to human health (such as disease transmission), livelihoods, water security, and food security, with reduction in food supply being by far the most frequently reported impact (more than 66 per cent).

The number of alien species has been rising continuously for centuries in all regions, and global economic costs of invasive alien species have quadrupled every decade since 1970.”

See the full report:

Roy, H.E., et al. (2023). Summary for Policymakers of the Thematic Assessment Report on Invasive Alien Species and their Control of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. IPBES secretariat, Bonn, Germany. [PDF]

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