Centering Community

Meet Mary Jane Rodger, Executive Director of Medway Community Forest and an unstoppable force in Nova Scotia's forestry sector.

Posted Mar 26, 2021

Pioneering community forestry

Mary Jane Rodger is a registered professional forester and the Executive Director of the Medway Community Forest Cooperative, a member-based community forest operating on 15,000 hectares of Crown land in Annapolis County, Nova Scotia.

Mary Jane grew up in the countryside at the foothills of the Niagara Escarpment, which surrounds the Greater Toronto Area. She grew to love to the region’s Carolinian forest, and she always found comfort and solace in this rich forest ecosystem.

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Mary Jane Rodger and her dog standing in the forest.

Mary Jane's connection to the forest drew her west to British Columbia to run tree planting crews. At the time, she was one of only two female crew bosses within a company of twenty crews. After several years of tree planting, she began to feel skeptical of the forestry industry. The nagging skepticism encouraged her to return to the University of Toronto, where she obtained a Master of Forest Conservation. Her formal education in forest conservation, training as a registered professional forester, and her steadfast belief in more thoughtful forestry helped her land her dream job as the Executive Director of the Medway Community Forest when its pilot project launched in 2015.

Mary Jane applies her formal education and technical training in all aspects of her work in the Medway Community Forest. Her day-to-day activities include overseeing forest silvicultural treatments; engaging landowners, organizations, and school groups to encourage more sustainable forestry; and working with policymakers to make ecological forestry more accessible in Nova Scotia.

In addition to her work for the Medway Community Forest, Mary Jane sits on the advisory committee responsible for the implementation of the recommendations made in the Lahey Report, a provincial report on ecological forestry released in 2018. She is also the Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Working Woodlands Trust. To say that she plays a role in the progression of the ecological forestry in Nova Scotia would be an understatement!

There's one guiding principle that inspires Mary Jane's work every day. When she was eight years old, a school teacher asked her, “What is an example of a miracle?” Mary Jane responded, “Nature, because she grows.” Mary Jane's deep love of forests and her faith in nature's capacity for renewal makes her an unstoppable force in Nova Scotia's forestry sector.