Cost of Invasive Species on Indian Economy
- May 4, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Cost of Invasive Species on Indian Economy
Context: As many as 10 invasive alien species (IAS), out of 330 that are known to be invasive in India, have cost the economy $127.3 billion (Rs. 8.3 trillion) in the last 60 years, according to a recent analysis that points to glaring knowledge gaps in costs incurred by these species to the Indian economy.
- As many as 330 species are declared invasive out of more than 2,000 alien species in India and the costs of $127.3 billion as documented in the study comes from only 10 of these 330 species, making India the second topmostinvasion-cost bearing country after the United States.
- The negative economic impacts are documented and available only for 3% of the known invasive species and unavailable/masked/underrepresented for the rest 97% of invasive species in India.
- Based on this global analysis, going by India’s GDP, we must have spent about$3.4 trillion on invasive species in the last six decades; going by India’s population, we must have spent about $1,700 trillion in the last six decades.
- The analysis finds that invasions by semi-aquatic and aquatic taxa have been causing a greater monetary burden to the economy compared to taxa inhabiting terrestrial ecosystems. The semi-aquatic costs were driven solely by a single species, the yellow fever mosquito, reflecting the substantial human healthcare costs associated with this taxon.
- Adopting a ‘whitelist’ approach to import any living species–every non-native species is considered potentially dangerous till proved to be safe by a risk profiling–as in effect in the island nations is more stringent and hence more effective in controlling potential invasions.
- In contrast, the more widely implemented approach of a ‘blacklist’, wherein every species is acceptable for import unless specifically banned, relies on scientists needing to prove that a species is problematic, with all the associated caveats when it would go against economic pressure.
- For example, Lantana camara, a tropical American shrub with pretty flowers is considered one of the top 10 worst invasive species by the IUCN; escaping manicured gardens it has stealthily made its home in India since its introductionin 1809 with an estimated cost of $70 per hectare for its control.
- Besides, there is a concern over the “unexplored and silent impact” of invasive species in central India, east India and northeast India’s biodiversity-rich regions for which not even a single cost report is available. So far, reports were only focussed south, west and north India.Because, Western and southern India’s ties to travel, trade, and commerce – provide opportunities for invasive species to hitch a ride into the country.
- The analysis shows that in India, as much as 35% of all costs are caused by animals, 15% by plants, 1% by fungi and bacteria, and the rest attributed to diverse/unspecified species- trends that are quite unusual when compared to the global cost distribution.
- All animal costs were caused by insects. Not a single mammal, bird, fish, reptile or amphibian species, or none of the spiders, worms, crabs, snails and other gastropods are represented in these costs. Although the number of invasive plant species (173 species) outnumber invasive animals (157 species) in India’s invasive species list, the cost of invasive plants was 1,000 times less compared to invasive animals.
- Most costs come from anthropocentric sectors such as fisheries, agriculture, health, social welfare, and administration. The costs related to forests and other non-anthropocentric ecosystems are almost absent.
- The impacts of invasive species are still under explored. With Aedes mosquitoes causing some of the world’s most deadly diseases, for example, the focus has always been on the effect (health) than on the cause (invasive species). The dialogue on fall army worm (Spodopterafrugiperda) is centred on an agricultural perspective, but not as an invasive species problem.
- One of the main reasons why invasive species can spread so fast to foreign lands is planetary warming. On the other hand, tackling the problem of invasive species will help in arresting the climate crisis as well.