Program Review

The Wet Tropics Management Authority is funded $6 million per year by the Australian and Queensland governments to eradicate yellow cray ants within and near to the World Heritage Area. The current funding to June 2022 is part of a 10-year program to eradicate yellow crazy ants by 2026.


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:

  • The benefits of the Eradication Program would far outweigh the costs.
  • If left uncontrolled, yellow crazy ants would spread across a significant area of the Wet Tropics lowlands and tablelands within 30 years.
  • The environmental and socioeconomic impacts to the region would exceed $6 billion over the next 30 years.
  • The socioeconomic impacts on tourism, agriculture, residents, and local industries would exceed $500 million over the next 30 years.

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.

 

Additional information

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. 


Main findings

The main findings of the Independent Review were:

  • Eradication of yellow crazy ants in and next to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area remains feasible.
  • The Authority’s Eradication Program has protected the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area from further spread of yellow crazy ants, including spread that would potentially have made eradication infeasible if yellow crazy ants reached the main water catchment supplying the Cairns area.
  • Progress towards eradication was slow between 2013 and 2017. This largely reflected factors outside the Authority’s control, including the discovery of new infestations likely to have existed before the Eradication Program commenced, and initial permitting restrictions that prevented the most effective treatment method from being applied. 
  • Substantial progress has been made towards eradication since 2017.

 

Additional information

 

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.

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