The potential impact of invasive woody oil plants on protected areas in China under future climate conditions.
Biodiesel produced from woody oil plants is considered a green substitute for fossil fuels. However, a potential negative impact of growing woody oil plants on a large scale is the introduction of highly invasive species into susceptible regions. In this study, we examined the potential invasion risk of woody oil plants in China's protected areas under future climate conditions. We simulated the current and future potential distributions of three invasive woody oil plants, Jatropha curcas, Ricinus communis, and Aleurites moluccana, under two climate change scenarios (RCP2.6 and RCP8.5) up to 2050 using species distribution models. Protected areas in China that will become susceptible to these species were then identified using a spatial overlay analysis. Our results showed that by 2050, 26 and 41 protected areas would be threatened by these invasive woody oil plants under scenarios RCP2.6 and RCP8.5, respectively. A total of 10 unique forest ecosystems and 17 rare plant species could be potentially affected. We recommend that the invasive potential of woody oil plants be fully accounted for when developing forest-based biodiesel, especially around protected areas.