Quantifying the social and economic benefits of the biological control of invasive alien plants in natural ecosystems
van Wilgen, B.W.
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Invasive alien plants reduce ecosystem service delivery, resulting in environmental, economic and social costs. Here we review the returns on investment from biological control of alien plants that invade natural ecosystems. Quantifying the economic benefits of biological control requires estimates of the reductions in ecosystem goods and services arising from invasion. It also requires post-release monitoring to assess whether biological control can restore them, and conversion of these estimates to monetary values, which has seldom been done. Past studies, mainly from Australia and South Africa, indicate that biological control delivers positive and substantial returns on investment, with benefit:cost ratios ranging from 8:1 to over 3000:1. Recent studies are rare, but they confirm that successful biological control delivers attractive returns on investment, which increase over time as the value of avoided impacts accumulates.
- RESEARCH: van Wilgen B