The land includes productive forests, old-growth timber stands, ocean and lake frontage, wetlands and some land of cultural significance to the Mi'kmaq.
"We will soon see highly valuable land back in the hands of Nova Scotians," said Premier Darrell Dexter.
As committed by Premier Dexter in December, the province will now work to increase public access to trails as part of the agreement with Bowater.
Most of the land, located in Annapolis, Hants, Lunenburg, Queens and Shelburne counties, was identified by the Colin Stewart Forest Forum as having high conservation values and will be included in the protected land process.
"We have been working jointly with the Nova Scotia government to select lands for today's purchase," said Chief Gerard Julian, co-chair of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs.
The purchase is part of the province's plan to protect jobs at the Bowater Mersey pulp and paper mill. The total price of the land purchase is $23.7 million.
"These land purchases are a strategic investment in Nova Scotia's future," said Chris Miller, national conservation biologist with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. "The properties are of high conservation value, and support old growth forests, species-at-risk habitat, frontage on significant waterways, and large intact forests."
The land purchases are consistent with the Canada-U.S. Softwood Lumber Agreement.
A map and descriptions of the land are available at http://gov.ns.ca/natr .