Spring is coming, the ice and snow are melting, but the hills at the nature reserves in southern China's Guangdong Province are not turning green - the forests there have been almost totally destroyed by snow damage this winter.
Forestry experts and officials were sent off by the local government to the nature reserves across the province from Sunday to Wednesday, to carry out a field survey of the losses. And they were shocked by what they saw.
Snow-damaged trees in a nature reserve in Guangdong Province in this recent photo.
"My heart chilled!" Liao Guangshe, a nature reserve management official, told a local newspaper "In the past, every time that I stepped into a mountain forest, I was greeted by singing birds. But now, the forests are overwhelmed with deadly silence."
Innumerable trees, including the old and rare ones in the primitive forests, have broken or fallen under the pressure of ice and snow. In the Nanling Nature Reserve in Shaoguan city, only five percent of the trees survived.
Hungry wild animals and birds tried escaping the frozen mountain area to search for food, only to die of starvation or the freezing temperatures halfway.
It will take at least ten years for the destroyed forests to recover, and the destruction will result in long-term biological and economic losses, the experts say.
According to the Xinhua News Agency, a total of 17.3 million hectares of forests, about one-tenth of China's forest resources, have been damaged by the extreme weather this winter.
Snow still covers the mountains of Tiantang Village, Lechang city, in Guangdong Province in this recent photo.
Trees are covered by ice in a nature reserve in Guangdong Province in this recent photo.
(CRI February 22, 2008)