B.C. forests outlook not gloomy: minister

The outlook for the lumber sector in B.C. Interior, ravaged by the mountain pine beetle, isn't as pessimistic as an industry report would suggest, Forests Minister Pat Bell said Thursday.

Bell was commenting on a forecast published Wednesday by analysts at Vancouver's International Wood Markets Group, which warned the peak of sawlog availability will occur within three to five years, after which the Interior's industry is headed for serious downsizing.

The government is working on strategies to stretch the Interior timber harvest to preserve the industry, said Bell, who represents the forestry-dependent riding of Prince George North.