10% of China’s forests destroyed in recent storms
February 11, 2008
Winter snow storms in China have destroyed 10 percent of the country’s forest resources according to Chinese state media.
The State Forestry Administration said that three weeks of storms damaged 17.3 million hectares (43 million acres) of forest across China. In the worst affected areas, nearly 90 percent forests had been destroyed.
Damage to the forestry sector were estimated to exceed $2.2 billion.
The State Forestry Administration said downed branches and trees could heighten the risk of forest fires this summer.
The devastation comes as China has aggressively expanded its forest cover in recent years, investing roughly $20 billion in the forestry sector since 2002. For 2008, the government planned to plant 2.5 billion trees as part of a 5-year, $72 billion forestry plan. Overall, China hopes to increase the country’s forest cover to 26 percent by 2050.
The destruction of 320 million large trees by Hurricane Katrina reduced the capacity of forests in the Southern United States to soak up carbon, reports a new study published in the journal Science. The research shows that hurricanes and other natural disturbances “can affect a landscape’s potential as a ‘carbon sink’ because the dead vegetation then decays, returning carbon to the atmosphere, and because the old vegetation is replaced by smaller, younger plants.”