Multiregional Invasive Species Management: Theory and an Application to Florida's Exotic Plants

By Kim, C. S.; Lee, Donna et al. | Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, October 2007 | Go to article overview

Multiregional Invasive Species Management: Theory and an Application to Florida's Exotic Plants


Kim, C. S., Lee, Donna, Schaible, Glenn, Vasavada, Utpal, Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics


This research develops a multiregional optimal control model that incorporates regional allocation of a public budget for controlling invasive plants when regionally differential recreation demand functions and species control costs are present. Our equimarginal condition for optimal budget allocation equates the relative marginal economic benefits per dollar spent across regions. The model was applied to Florida Public Conservation Land regions, and results indicate that the magnitude of an annual management budget affects its distribution among species management regions, but the size of the intrinsic growth rate does not affect the pattern of budget allocation among regions.

Key Words: budget allocation, equimarginal condition, Florida invasive species, invasive plants, optimal control

JEL Classifications: B41, C02, Q51, Q57

Public Conservation Land in Florida serves the critical roles of protecting upland natural resources, providing wildlife habitat, and serving a multibillion dollar ecotourism industry. Threats to those resources include the encroachment and spread of alien invasive plants. Over 1 million acres of Florida's 8.5 million acres of Public Conservation Lands have been invaded by the "10 most unwanted" upland exotic plants, including the Melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia), commonly known as "Paperbark Tree," the Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), commonly known as "Florida Holly," the Australian pine (Casuarina spp.), the Old World climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum), and the Chinese Tallow (Triadica sebifera). Furthermore, as of 2003, upland invasive weeds have infested ~ 15% of Public Conservation Lands statewide (Florida Department of Environmental Protection [DEP]).

This ongoing alien invasion has degraded and diminished Florida's natural areas, affected agricultural production, and reduced outdoor recreation and ecotourism. Accordingly, the Florida DEP, through its Bureau of Invasive Plant Management, began combating invasive plants in the late 1990s with program funding of $6 million per year. With a statewide perspective already established in its aquatic weed control program, the DEP's Bureau of Invasive Plant Management merely needed to expand its focus to terrestrial weeds to fulfill its charge; therefore, the Upland Invasive Exotic Plant Management (Upland Weeds) Program was established within the bureau in 1997 (Florida DEP). The Upland Weeds Program funds individual invasive exotic plant control projects on Public Conservation Lands. Program funds are allocated equally across 11 working groups composed of federal, state, and local government agencies, which fund the highest priority projects based upon available funds (Florida DEP). As of 2003, 110,000 plant acres were under program management control.

Given the complexity and the magnitude of adverse economic and ecological impacts of invasive plants infestation, researchers have employed at least two different bioeconomic dynamic models to evaluate the economics of invasive plant management (see Olson for a review). The first approach maximizes the net economic benefits from managing invasive plants without consideration of the spatial variation of invasive plants. Eiswerth and van Kooten used a dynamic programming model for managing the Yellow Star thistle weed that infests rangelands in Nevada and California. Odom et al. extended the model used in Eiswerth and van Kooten by including a budget constraint for managing the Scotch Broom (Sytisus scoparius L.) plant in Barrington Tops National Park in Australia, but they did not consider budget allocation in their study.

Meanwhile, the second approach minimizes costs of managing invasive plants, while considering the spatial variation of invasive plants. Taylor and Hastings applied a structured model in which the population of the invasive Spartina was partitioned at a relatively small spatial scale in order to investigate density-based eradication strategies. …

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