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Learn About Invasive Species

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 Fact Sheet - Cost to Ontario Cities 
 Report - Cost to Ontario Cities   
 2017 Economic Report  

   Economic Impacts to Ontario


     How do invasive species affect the economy? 

Executive summary excerpts from the updated 2018 economic impact report:

The purpose of this report is to estimate expenditures on invasive species by municipalities and conservation authorities in Ontario. Surveys were conducted in early 2018 of municipalities and conservation authorities to derive information on expenditures for invasive species prevention, detection, control, and management activities. Responses were received from 68 municipalities and 13 conservation authorities. The information collected through these surveys is used to estimate total expenditures on invasive species incurred by all municipalities and all conservation authorities across Ontario. 

The survey results indicate that expenditures on invasive species were reported by 34 of 68 municipalities, with an average expenditure of $62,328, and by 8 of 13 conservation authorities (CAs), with an average expenditure of $51,438. Total expenditures were $4,238,277 for responding municipalities and $668,700 for responding CAs. For both groups, the majority of reported expenditures were incurred for control of emerald ash borer (84.4% for municipalities; 71.3% for CAs).

Extrapolations are also conducted on a combined sample comprised of both the 2017 and 2018 survey respondents. This approach addresses potential representativeness issues associated with both samples. The results of the extrapolations on the combined sample generate an estimated total expenditure by municipalities and conservation authorities of $38.8 million per year. This estimate may be more accurate than the estimates based on the individual 2017 and 2018 samples.

Read the full Updated Expenditure Estimates on Invasive Species in Ontario: 2018 Survey Results



  Review: Invasive Species Impacts to Canada

Invasive species affect Canada’s economy in many ways, both directly and indirectly. Direct economic impacts caused by invasive species arise from costs such as, research, control and management programs, reduction of economically important resources and crop yield, and impacts on international trade and tariffs. However, much of this data is not available, and many of these impacts are not assessed. Indirect economic impacts can be much more challenging to quantify, and in some cases, hold a greater weight than direct impacts. Examples of indirect economic impacts include loss of ecosystem services (the ways that the environment benefits humans), changes in natural habitats, decrease of biodiversity, and social impacts. Due to the difficulty in assessing both the direct and indirect impacts of invasive species, estimates of economic impact vary widely. 

Economic loss, due to invasive species in Canada, can be calculated from available data on control costs, reduced yield and land value, trade bans, landowner compensation, health-care costs, and reduced revenue from tourism. The costs associated with ten species, which invade the Canadian fishing, forestry, and agriculture industries, totaled $187 million per year1. However, this number does not include costs of ‘one time events’ such as localized emerald ash borer treatments. 

There is also an ‘invisible tax’ due to invasive species that is caused by the reduced production of resources. This decrease due to invasions applies to forestry, fisheries, and agriculture. When the ‘invisible tax’ is incorporated, the cost of invasive species to Canada is between $16.6 billion and $34.5 billion per year1. Similarly, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) estimates the annual impact of invasive species to be $30 billion ($20 billion in the forest sector, $7 billion for aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes, and $2.2 billion for invasive plants in the agricultural sector)2. It saves money in the long run to invest in prevention efforts when dealing with invasive species, rather than paying the extensive costs associated with management after arrival and establishment. 

1Colautti, R. I., Bailey, S. A., van Overdijk, C. D., Amundsen, K., & MacIsaac, H. J. (2006). Characterised and projected costs of nonindigenous species in Canada. Biological Invasions, 8(1), 45-59.


Further Reading


Urban Forests: The Value of Trees in the City of Toronto
This report examines the benefit of investment into the urban forests in Toronto and how much should be spent to maintain them.

A Value of Urban Forests in Cities across Canada
This report examines the economic and environmental benefits of forests in and around Halifax, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Invasive Species: A Costly Catastrophe for Native Biodiversity
This study looks at the public cost of invasive species that are brought in for ornamental use but spread to the natural environment.

An Ounce of Prevention or a Pound of Cure: Bioeconomic Rick Analysis of Invasive Species
This study determines optimal resource allocation to prevention versus control of invasive species, finding that we should be investing more into prevention.

Economic Impacts of Non-Native Forest Insects in the Continental United States
This study developed a model for determining current and future costs of invasive forest insects, providing more information for evaluating policy and management option.

Estimates of the Potential Cost of Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) in Canadian Municipalities
This study looks at the costs associate with street and backyard trees being removed due to emerald ash borer infestations.

Economics of Harmful Invasive Species: A Review
This study reviews the economics behind how to manage invasive species with regard to the difficultly of policy making.