As well as being planted for wind breaks, landscape trees, and fuel wood, eucalypts are also widely used as urban street trees in California. They now are besieged by exotic insect herbivores of four different feeding guilds. The objective of the current analysis was to determine the return on investment from biological control programs that have targeted these pests. Independent estimates of the total number of eucalypt street trees in California ranged from a high of 476,527 trees (based on tree inventories from 135 California cities) to a low of 190,666 trees (based on 49 tree inventories). Based on a survey of 3,512 trees, the estimated mean value of an individual eucalypt was US$5,978. Thus, the total value of eucalypt street trees in California ranged from more than US$1.0 billion to more than US$2.8 billion. Biological control programs that targeted pests of eucalypts in California have cost US$2,663,097 in extramural grants and University of California salaries. Consequently, the return derived from protecting the value of this resource through the biological control efforts, per dollar expended, ranged from US$1,070 for the high estimated number of trees to US$428 for the lower estimate. The analyses demonstrate both the tremendous value of urban street trees, and the benefits that stem from successful biological control programs aimed at preserving these trees. Economic analyses such as this, which demonstrate the substantial rates of return from successful biological control of invasive pests, may play a key role in developing both grass-roots and governmental support for future urban biological control efforts.
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