China loses one-tenth forest resources in snowfall

By Xinhua

Beijing : Around 17.3 million hectares of forests, nearly one-tenth of China’s forest resources, have been damaged by the unprecedented snowfall in at least five decades, an official report said.

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The State Forestry Administration (SFA) in its latest report released Friday said forests in the 18 provinces in southern China has been damaged.

The administration did not give any figure for the value of the losses. Previous SFA report showed that harsh weather conditions have caused losses worth 16.2 billion yuan (around $2.5 billion) in China’s forestry sector.

The SFA has passed an emergency order, requiring its regional branches to organise and monitor timely clean-up of fallen trees, for fear that people might take advantage of the situation to indiscriminately fell trees.

It also urged its offices to increase the supply of seedlings to the unaffected areas for the spring afforestation, which usually starts in April.

Cao Qingyao, an SFA spokesman, warned earlier this month that trees killed by the winter frost in the southern regions could lead to fire disasters when the weather gets warmer. Dead trees and broken branches would significantly increase the amount of inflammable materials in the forests.

The northern region, however, would suffer from less rain in the first two months of the year, and dry plants are also vulnerable to flames.

“The death of migrant birds and wildlife should also be carefully handled and immediately reported in order to avoid possible outbreak of animal epidemics,” it said.

The State Council (China’s Cabinet) Friday, warned people that livestock may be vulnerable to epidemics like avian influenza and blue-ear pig disease as a result of the cold weather conditions.

Farmers were asked to carefully examine their breeding facilities, clean up snow and secure appropriate indoor temperatures for livestock.