Alien invasion: Study reveals alarming economic costs of biological invasions to the European Union

September 01, 2023

Biological invasions are a major threat to ecosystems, biodiversity, and human well-being, resulting in ecosystem degradation and causing economic costs in the multi-trillions of euros globally. A study led by McGill University sheds light on the stark economic cost resulting from biological invasions in the European Union (EU). To fill this gap, the team quantified the economic costs of biological invasions to the European Union, while estimating future invasion costs using predictive models. “Our study reveals a shocking underestimation of the economic costs of biological invasions in the European Union. About the study“Unveiling the hidden economic toll of biological invasions in the European Union” by Morgane Henry et al.

Biological invasions are a major threat to ecosystems, biodiversity, and human well-being, resulting in ecosystem degradation and causing economic costs in the multi-trillions of euros globally. A study led by McGill University sheds light on the stark economic cost resulting from biological invasions in the European Union (EU).

The European Union continues to be exposed to thousands of invasive alien species — harmful species introduced by humans from outside of their natural habitat. The EU is particularly vulnerable because the region’s volume of economic activity via trade and the transportation of goods increases the risks of biological invasions, according to the study published in Environmental Sciences Europe.

Most invasive alien species are not adequately assessed for their actual and potential economic impacts therefore most cost estimates are grossly underestimated, say the researchers. To fill this gap, the team quantified the economic costs of biological invasions to the European Union, while estimating future invasion costs using predictive models.

Costs potentially 501% higher than previously recorded

Their findings are alarming — of the approximately 13,000 invasive alien species known to have established populations in the European Union, only 259 (around 1%) have reported costs, showing substantial knowledge gaps in cost assessments regionally. The researchers’ models projected unreported costs to be potentially 501% higher than currently recorded, reaching a staggering €26.64 billion (US$28.0 billion) in the European Union, led by countries such as Lithuania, Malta, and Czech Republic.

The study's projections for future estimates revealed a substantial increase in costs, with estimates soaring to more than €142.73 billion (US$150 billion) by 2040 in the absence of effective management.

“Our study reveals a shocking underestimation of the economic costs of biological invasions in the European Union. These costs are not only a huge burden for the European Union’s economy, but also jeopardise the ecological balance and well-being of societies,” says lead author Morgane Henry, a PhD student under the supervision of McGill University Professor Brian Leung.

“It is imperative that we take immediate action to enhance cost reporting, identify the most concerning economic impacts, and work together on a global scale to address the threat posed by invasive alien species,” she adds.

The researchers warn that policymakers, scientists, and stakeholders should take heed of the implications of the study and collaborate to protect ecosystems, safeguard biodiversity, and ensure the well-being of communities. Otherwise, biological invasions will create an insurmountable financial burden unless the EU and its governments take swift action to address the devastating ecological impact that’s happening.

“The costs are potentially huge, but in most cases we just don’t know. Notably, our fivefold increase in cost estimates included only 1% of species with existing data, by extrapolating to other countries where they are known to have invaded, but where costs have not been estimated yet. We don’t know about the other 99% of the species”, says Professor Brian Leung of McGill University’s Department of Biology.

About the study

Unveiling the hidden economic toll of biological invasions in the European Union” by Morgane Henry et al. was published in Environmental Sciences Europe.

About McGill University

Founded in 1821, McGill University is home to exceptional students, faculty, and staff from across Canada and around the world. It is consistently ranked as one of the top universities, both nationally and internationally. It is a world-renowned institution of higher learning with research activities spanning three campuses, 12 faculties, 14 professional schools, 300 programs of study and over 39,000 students, including more than 10,400 graduate students.

McGill’s commitment to sustainability reaches back several decades and spans scales from local to global. The sustainability declarations that we have signed affirm our role in helping to shape a future where people and the planet can flourish.

The source of this news is from Mc Gill University

Popular in Research

1

May 28, 2024

Can exams be shorter and better?

2

May 29, 2024

HKGAI Debuts Cutting Edge AI Projects at InnoEx 2024 | The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

3

May 28, 2024

Campus garden initiatives can help grow the next generation of environmental change-makers

4

May 28, 2024

Three NYU Faculty Awarded 2024 Guggenheim Fellowships

5

Jun 7, 2024

From ashes to adversity: Lessons from South Australia's business recovery amidst bushfires and pandemic

Record Share of U.S. Electorate Is Pro-Choice and Voting on It

2 days ago

LIVE: Cleanup begins after tornadoes, severe weather risk to linger through the weekend

2 days ago

Tabloid head wanted to 'protect' Trump from salacious stories

2 days ago

Foreign holdings of US Treasuries hit record high; Japan holdings rise, data shows

Jun 7, 2024

Cool Course: New York Underground

2 days ago

“No one can work in civil engineering alone”

2 days ago