The forestry industry in Hunan emerged as the biggest casualty of the recent disastrous snowstorms that ravaged the province for three weeks, provincial leaders said yesterday. As Governor Zhou Qiang declared that electricity would return to every village in the province today - about 55 days after the worst blizzards in five decades started wreaking havoc in several provinces and regions - others suggested it may take much longer for the forests to recover. Winds, and the weight of the snow and ice brought down trees as well as bamboo in Hunan in what Mr Zhou described as 'fatal damage' to the province's forests. 'Areas affected by this disaster were those where the forestry industry was growing the fastest and was the most vibrant,' he said. 'The disaster situation is at present still continuing for the forestry sector and the losses might get bigger.' As of the end of last month, the winter storms had inflicted a 16.5 billion yuan (HK$18.11 billion) toll on the province's forestry industry. 'We lost more than 70 per cent of our bamboo to the snowstorms,' said Yu Aiguo, mayor of Xiangtan , one of the worst-hit places in the province. 'About 50 years will be needed for its restoration. 'For some creatures classified as protected species, it will take about 100 years.' Huaihua Mayor Li Yilong said forest cover had dramatically fallen following the cold snap. 'This will lead to a sharp increase in water run-off and landslides, and induce forest fires and pests,' Mr Li said. Huang Xihua, a Guangdong-based environmental expert, said most people would presume power grids and transport infrastructure were the worst-struck public assets in the snowstorms, but environmental assets such as trees took the biggest beating. Mr Yu said he had pleaded for more financial aid for tree growers and fruit farmers, who did not get enough attention from the provincial leaders. Li Youzhi, the provincial financial czar, vowed to inject more money into reforestation, adding the snowstorms had left the forestry sector vulnerable and 'in dire need of government funding'. The provincial forestry administration has previously said forestry capacity will be cut by 17 million cubic metres compared with last year. China lost one-tenth - about 17.3 million hectares - of its forestry resources to the snowstorm, the State Forestry Administration said.