The Wet Tropics Management Authority is funded $6 million per year by the Australian and Queensland governments to eradicate yellow crazy ants within and near to the World Heritage Area. The current funding is to June 2022, with the Authority now seeking further commitment of $6 million annually for another six years.
Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Yellow Crazy Ant Eradication Program
In 2018, the Authority commissioned a cost-benefit analysis to demonstrate the environmental and socioeconomic benefits of the Yellow Crazy Ant Eradication Program over the next 30 years. These benefits are largely due to preventing the impacts of yellow crazy ants within the Wet Tropics if they were allowed to spread unchecked. The cost of the program was calculated at $6 million per annum for the next 7 years.
Yellow crazy ants have been listed among the top 100 of the world’s worst invasive species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They can prosper in a broad range of habitats and are versatile, omnivorous and aggressive invaders. They devastate the local ecology and kill nearly all other vertebrate and invertebrate species within an infested area.
Yellow crazy ants can have a strong impact on people’s quality of life and their ability to enjoy their house and land with family, friends and pets. Due to this, infestations have the potential to lower land values and deter new business and social investment in the region. Yellow crazy ants tend to farm and protect various scale insects, and so can affect agricultural yields, such as in sugar cane and fruit crops. Tourism would also suffer if the yellow crazy ants were to spread uncontrolled, infesting local visitor sites and decimating the Wet Tropics ecosystem.
Cost-benefit analysis findings
The cost-benefit analysis found that:
Based on the spread modelling, the cost-benefit analysis also stated that eradication is the only feasible option and controlling rather than eradicating yellow crazy ants would not keep them out of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
The cost-benefit analysis of the Eradication Program was a requirement of the Australian Government under the National Landcare Program. It was completed by Daniel Spring, Tom Kompas and Richard Bradhurst from the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis at Melbourne University in March 2019.
Three documents have been developed:
Independent Review of the Yellow Crazy Ant Eradication Program
An Independent Review of the Eradication Program was completed in November 2018 by Dr Daniel Spring and Dr Tom Kompas from Melbourne University’s Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity Risk Analysis (CEBRA).
The Review was a requirement of the Australian Government’s Caring for Our Country Target Area Grant (TAG) Program which funded the Eradication Program from 2013 to 2018. It focused on the achievements of the Eradication Program from 2013 to 2018 over the life of the TAG Program. During this period, the Eradication Program was able to enhance its response as it received additional funding from the National Landcare Program. The Review also examined the feasibility of eradication and recommended strategies to minimise risk to the success of the program.
The main findings of the Independent Review were:
Have you seen yellow crazy ants?
Anyone who suspects they have seen yellow crazy ants is encouraged to contact the Wet Tropics Management Authority at YCA@wtma.qld.gov.au or call 4241 0525.