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Valuing the control of red imported fire ants in Australia with choice modelling
Invasive species create particular challenges for policy makers needing to identify and evaluate appropriate management responses. While some deliberately introduced species contribute significantly to agricultural production and other purposes, many invasive weed and animal pests have the potential to generate substantial costs through impacts on agricultural production, biodiversity, ecosystem services, infrastructure and communities. Red imported fire ants, an aggressive ant species, were introduced by accident to Australia, with infestations found in Brisbane in February 2001. Modelling suggested that the pest could invade half of Australia within 35 years if it was not controlled (Kompas and Che 2001; Scanlon and Vanderwoude 2006). While control efforts are reducing the rate of new discoveries, the pest had still not been eradicated by 2009. The benefits of controlling red imported fire ants are largely non-use benefits in terms of avoiding health impacts, maintaining lifestyle and amenity values, and avoiding environmental impacts. Accordingly, these benefits are assessed with an application of choice modelling, a non-market valuation technique.