If the severe drought gripping northern China spreads and lingers, it could damage forests and thus make spring sandstorms worse, an official with China's State Forestry Administration (SFA) said Wednesday.
Last year, the northern region had 12 sandstorms.
Luo Bin, an official in charge of sandstorm prevention, said that so far, forests in source regions for sandstorms were generally in good condition. However, he said, it was hard to tell whether they would be affected by the worst dry spell in 50 years, since the drought's development was difficult to predict.
He said the drought had affected some 6.3 million hectares of forest to the north of Beijing and Tianjin and if it lingered, parts of these forests would be damaged. The SFA would launch emergency measures if needed.
(Xinhua News Agency February 12, 2009)