Report analyses the $740-million cost of animal pests

Published 17 November 2009

pestsA report by researchers from the University of New England and other leading research organisations has revealed that invasive animal pests cost Australia more than $740 million a year.

The report, The economic impacts of vertebrate pests in Australia, provides estimates of the direct economic impact of invasive animals on agriculture in Australia ($620.8 million), and the nationwide expenditure by governments and landholders on pest management, administration and research ($122.7 million).

Associate Professor Jack Sinden, one of the two UNE-based researchers who collaborated on the project, said that the research had involved compiling estimates of the impact of foxes, rabbits, wild dogs and feral pigs on the beef, wool, sheep meat and grains industries. The figures also included estimates of the impact of introduced species of birds on horticulture, and mice on grains, he said.

Dr Sinden is an agricultural economist at UNE who specialises in the application of cost/benefit analyses to environmental issues. He was joined in the research by Dr Wendy Gong (also, at the time of the project, from UNE) and Dr Mike Braysher from the University of Canberra’s Institute for Applied Ecology. Dr Randall Jones from the NSW Department of Primary Industries was the team leader.

The report is published by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (IA CRC). It was launched earlier this year at Parliament House, Canberra, by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Hon. Tony Burke MP.

Dr Sinden pointed out that the information in the report could be used to raise general awareness of the problem, draw attention to specific issues, demonstrate the size of the problem, define broad problem areas, and formulate broad policies.

“The report underlines the cost of losses to specific agricultural industries and expenditures on invasive animal control, and provides a vital baseline to illustrate the damage caused by invasive animals,” said Professor Tony Peacock, Chief of the IA CRC. Professor Peacock added that the estimates presented in the report were conservative, as they did not consider the environmental or social costs of invasive animals.

THE IMAGE displayed here, taken from the cover of the report, expands to include (from left) Dr Randall Jones, Dr Wendy Gong, and Associate Professor Jack Sinden.