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Red Imported Fire Ant in Australia: What if we lose the war?

Wylie, F. Ross and Janssen-May, Sharon (2016) Red Imported Fire Ant in Australia: What if we lose the war? Ecological Management & Restoration . ISSN 14427001

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Article Link(s): http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/emr.12238

Abstract

In Australia, a national eradication programme for the Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta Buren), one of the world's most invasive species, has been in operation since 2001 when the pest was first detected in Brisbane, Queensland. Since that time, four separate incursions of this ant have been successfully eradicated from this country, but the main Brisbane population remains. Cost-benefit analyses already conducted put the likely impact of Red Imported Fire Ant in Australia, if not eradicated, at between A$8.5 and A$45 billion. Despite this, ongoing funding for the eradication programme is not assured. A recent external review has concluded that it remains technically feasible, cost beneficial and in the national interest to eradicate. In support of previous analyses, our study highlights some of the potential impacts of Red Imported Fire Ant in Australia in more detail and provides case examples. Results show that adverse impacts are likely in most sectors of the economy, and will be felt not only by agricultural industries, but also the building and construction, tourism, electrical and communications industries. In addition to industry effects, there will also be negative impacts on public health and lifestyle, the environment and infrastructure such as main roads, airports and schools. Our estimates of potential cost impacts in the case examples where extrapolation was possible exceed A$1.65 billion/year and support previous predictions. We conclude that increased spending is justified to avert ‘invasion debt’ – the future cost of battling pests that escape today. This is a war that Australia cannot afford to lose.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Keywords:agriculture animals environment health impact infrastructure lifestyle Red Imported Fire Ant Solenopsis invicta
Subjects:Science > Entomology
Science > Invasive Species > Animals
Deposited On:11 Jan 2017 07:12
Last Modified:11 Jan 2017 07:12

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