China has lost about one tenth of its forest resources to recent snow storms regarded as the most severe in half a century, state media reported Sunday.

A total of 17.3 million hectares (43 million acres) of forest have been damaged across China as the result of three weeks of savage winter weather, the China Daily website said, citing the State Forestry Administration.

More than half the country's provinces have been affected, and in the worst-hit regions, nearly 90 percent of forests have been destroyed, according to the paper.

As of the end of last month, disastrous winter weather had levied a toll of 16.2 billion yuan (2.2 billion dollars) on China's forestry sector, the report said, citing the most recent data available.

More misery could be in store, as the State Forest Administration has warned trees killed by winter frost could boost the amount of inflammable materials, raising the risk of forest fires.

In response to the dire situation, the government has urged areas unaffected by the snow storms to expand seedling supply to secure spring reforestation efforts, expected to begin in early April, according to the report.

The destruction of large swathes of forest comes as China is spending large sums on reforestation.

In January, state media said China planned to plant 2.5 billion trees this year.

Deforestation is linked to the extinction of plants and animals, social conflict, climate change and natural disasters such as flooding and landslides.