EPPO Global Database

EPPO Reporting Service no. 09 - 2017 Num. article: 2017/179

The role of invasive alien species in shaping local livelihoods and human well-being

Invasive species are recognised drivers of social-ecological change. However, most research focuses on ecological impacts, whilst the role of invasive species in human well-being and livelihoods is less understood. However, understanding the benefits and costs of invasive species for livelihoods and human well-being is necessary for guiding policy and management. The authors present findings from several case studies and a recent literature review on the role of invasive species in livelihoods. From the review, almost half (45 %) of species studied had both positive and negative effects on local livelihoods (e.g. Prosopis species), with 38 % inducing mainly costs (e.g. Chromolaena odorata) and 18 % producing mainly benefits (e.g. Opuntia ficus-indica). Common benefits included the provision of firewood, fodder, timber and food products and to a lesser extent supporting and regulating services such as soil improvement and shade. Some also provided cultural services such as recreation and well being. However, in some cases invasive species also undermine livelihoods and increase vulnerability through encroaching land and reducing access, decreasing provisioning services and reducing agricultural production, all of which can result in losses that increase vulnerability in human communities. Furthermore, some invasive species have negative implications for human health and safety and reduce cultural values. Economic impacts on livelihoods were highly variable between sites and cases. The mean cost induced by invasive species was USD 532±894 per household per year in comparison to benefits of approximately USD 226±244 per household per year.


Shackleton C, Kull C, Shackleton R (2017) The role of invasive alien species in shaping local livelihoods and human well-being.  Oral Presentation: Ecology and Management of Alien Plant Invasions (Lisbon, PT, 2017-09-04/08).