The global increase in biological invasions is placing growing pressure on the management of ecological and economic systems. However, the effectiveness of current management expenditure is difficult to assess due to a lack of standardised measurement across spatial, taxonomic and temporal scales. Furthermore, there is no quantification of the spending difference between pre-invasion (e.g. prevention) and post-invasion (e.g. control) stages, although preventative measures are considered to be the most cost-effective. Here, we use a comprehensive database of invasive alien species economic costs (InvaCost) to synthesise and model the global management costs of biological invasions, in order to provide a better understanding of the stage at which these expenditures occur. Since 1960, reported management expenditures have totalled at least US$95.3 billion (in 2017 values), considering only highly reliable and actually observed costs — 12-times less than damage costs from invasions ($1130.6 billion). Pre-invasion management spending ($2.8 billion) was over 25-times lower than post-invasion expenditure ($72.7 billion). Management costs were heavily geographically skewed towards North America (54%) and Oceania (30%). The largest shares of expenditures were directed towards invasive alien invertebrates in terrestrial environments. Spending on invasive alien species management has grown by two orders of magnitude since 1960, reaching an estimated $4.2 billion per year globally (in 2017 values) in the 2010s, but remains 1–2 orders of magnitude lower than damages. National management spending increased with incurred damage costs, with management actions delayed on average by 11 years globally following damage reporting. These management delays on the global level have caused an additional invasion cost of approximately $1.2 trillion, compared to scenarios with immediate management. Our results indicate insufficient management — particularly pre-invasion — and urge better investment to prevent future invasions and to control established alien species. Recommendations to improve reported management cost comprehensiveness, resolution and terminology are also made.
- Delayed control and eradication
- Global trends
- Invasive alien species
- Socio-economic impacts