PLAN or Get SLAM'ed: Optimal Management of Invasive Species in the Presence of Indirect Health Externalities

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This paper examines invasive species management when invasive species impact health outcomes indirectly through changes to environmental quality. For example, the emerald ash borer (EAB) has destroyed millions of ash trees throughout North America and has the potential to impact rates of cardiorespiratory mortality and morbidity through ash trees’ ability to capture airborne pollutants. Optimal management inclusive of indirect health externalities may be different than status quo plans because the links between nature and health are complex, dynamic, and spatially heterogeneous. We produce a novel dynamic bioeconomic-health model to determine optimal EAB management in the face of such health effects. Our results show that including health increases net benefits of management substantially and that a “one size fits all” management approach is suboptimal given forest cover and demographic spatial heterogeneity. Net benefits to society are 873% higher and air pollution related mortality incidence is 82% lower when health externalities are included in management profiles using insecticide treatments and non-ash tree preemptive plantings without removal. Additionally, constrained managers optimally substitute toward preemptive tree plantings and away from insecticide use in the presence of indirect health externalities as a way to minimize disruptions to air quality. This paper has policy implications for the optimal management of environmental amenities.





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Journal of Environmental Management

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