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Damage wrought by the pine beetle in British Columbia has wiped out massive patches of trees. Dead Red Pine trees because of the Pine Beetle near Williams Lake August 26, 2007.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

B.C.'s Forests Minister says out-of-date information was used in an analysis that projects thousands of jobs will be lost around the province because of the mountain pine beetle infestation.

While Central 1 Credit Union says the impact will cost more than 11,000 jobs in the next 20 years, Pat Bell said Thursday the industry is poised to gain up to 10,000 jobs in the next decade.

"It's important for the public to understand [that]while this data may have been relevant to 2005-2006, compared to today's employment numbers we should see employment growth in the forest industry, not decline," Mr. Bell said.

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He said the revitalized industry is back to harvesting the full annual allowable cut, although last year's cut amounted to only 41 million cubic metres, compared to the traditional cut of 71 million annually.

However, the report said it's clear the annual allowable cut will be significantly decreased and is expected to remain at very low levels for at least the next 25 to 30 years, before rising as young pine matures to timber that can be harvested.

The lack of alternative industries in parts of the province mean another 9,500 indirect jobs will be lost in the Interior because a huge swath of mature lodgepole pine will have been killed by pine beetles by 2020, the report said.

It estimates that Prince George, Williams Lake and Kamloops will have to absorb about half of the total timber supply loss, but the impact would be limited in Prince George and Kamloops because of economic diversity.

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