Where Do We Stand

North Cowichan Forest Review

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Andy MacKinnon Interview and Six Mountains Event Presentation

Where Do We Stand

Andy MacKinnon: The Rockstar of Botanists

Andy MacKinnon: The Rockstar of Botanists

Who is Andy MacKinnon?

The Ancient Forest Alliance describes Andy as the “rockstar of botanists” and the most knowledgeable person in the province about the old-growth.

Four years ago, when we learned that systematic clearcutting was coming over the tops of the Six Mountains, and our 4 year forest campaign began, what I didn’t know about Andy MacKinnon was a lot — akin to what I didn’t know about Wade Davis.

Andy isn't new to the Cowichan Valley; for decades he has been invited by community groups to speak. But 4 years ago, truth is, I’d never heard of Andy (or Wade); I was basically hiding out, under a rock. A big rock.

It didn’t matter. Like every other forest advocate whom I knew nothing about, these devoted life-long experts are the most humble, kind, generous, wise (also funny) individuals you could hope to learn from.

It all began with Andy.


The list of Andy’s accomplishments would take an entire post. In short:

Andy is co-author of 6 best-selling books on North American plants, including Plants of Coastal British Columbia, known as the bible of botany in BC.

(I admit it: Like most people, living on the coast in the 20th century, I owned the bible, shared it with my children, yet never noticed Andy’s name. Go check your bookshelf. And if you don’t own his recent book on mushrooms — it’s extraordinary.)

For those who attended the WDWS full house community forest meeting in 2019, at the Performing Arts Centre, Andy was the speaker who, through his story about the seedling and the fir cone, brought half of us to tears.

If not for Andy, and Guy Dauncey, our community forest meeting wouldn’t have happened. There was only 1 day available, 2 weeks to pull it together. A vision came to me; just about everyone said it was impossible in 2 weeks.

Andy signed on immediately, inspiring other renowned experts to come. (Ray Travers, Guy Dauncy, Briony Penn, Peter Arcese, Jens Wieting, Dan Pierce.)

I’ll never forget Andy beginning my 4 year education (barely begun). He told the story of all the community forests on the East coast of the Island, like ours — where citizens assumed the mature, second-growth, naturally regenerated forests would never be logged. Now clearcutting  was coming through their trails, watersheds, sacred places.

The critical thing is, Andy said, no other community has the legal power to stop the logging — we are the only one in BC with the right to do this.

Icel Dobell

NOTE: The information related to harvesting & carbon revenue, the logging maps, social and ecological indicators are sourced from the UBC Forestry slide presentation to Council.
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