Risk management assessment improves the cost-effectiveness of invasive species prioritisation.
International agreements commit nations to control or eradicate invasive alien species. The scale of this challenge exceeds available resources and so it is essential to prioritise the management of invasive alien species. Species prioritisation for management typically involves a hierarchy of processes that consider the likelihood and scale of impact (risk assessment) and the feasibility, costs and effectiveness of management (risk management). Risk assessment processes are widely used, risk management less so, but are a crucial component of resource decision making. To assess the cost-effectiveness of prioritisation, we considered 26 high-risk species considered for eradication from Great Britain (GB) with pre-existing risk assessment and risk management outputs. We extracted scores to reflect the overall risk to GB posed by the species, together with the estimated cost and the overall feasibility of eradication. We used these to consider the relative reduction in risk per unit cost when managing prioritised species based on different criteria. We showed that the cost-effectiveness of prioritisation within our sample using risk assessment scores alone, performed no better than a random ranking of the species. In contrast, prioritisation including management feasibility produced nearly two orders of magnitude improvement compared to random. We conclude that basing management actions on priorities based solely on risk assessment without considering management feasibility risks the inefficient use of limited resources. In this study, the cost-effectiveness of species prioritisation for action was greatly increased by the inclusion of risk management assessment.