Government signed an agreement today, Jan. 30, with Medway Community Forest Co-operative Ltd. to begin managing a community forest in Annapolis County, the first one in Eastern Canada. A community forest is managed by local people to benefit the local economy. “Government wants our forests managed in ways that bring us economic, environmental and social benefits. This pilot project is a key part of that mix,” said Zach Churchill, Minister of Natural Resources. The community forest is part of the natural resources strategy. The co-operative will develop a long-term, ecological plan to manage the working forest and nurture forest-based businesses that support the local economy. The proposal was chosen through an expression of interest process by the provincial government. The three-year pilot project will be on 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres) of provincial Crown land. Government will contribute $274,000. “Community forests across the country have helped contribute to rural economies and support direct community involvement in decision making,” said Will Martin, chair of the co-operative. “We are hopeful to see this become a new collaborative model for forest management that will support long-term sustainability.” A map of the community forest is at www.novascotia.ca/natr . The Medway Community Forest Co-operative is supported by several groups including the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute, Wind Horse Woods, the North Queens Board of Trade, the Federation of Nova Scotia Woodland Owners, Nova Scotia Woodland Owners and Operators Association, Nova Scotia Co-operative Council, and the Ecology Action Centre, as well as numerous local community members, forestry contractors and local mills. More information about the community forest is a www.medwaycommunityforest.com .