Last year, the previous environment minister Alex Attwood said that the Mourne Mountains, the Causeway Coast and Glens of Antrim, and the Fermanagh Lakelands were the "three most likely candidate areas" for national park designation following an independent assessment.
But in a statement yesterday Durkan said that legislation to take forward the proposals would not now go ahead.
He said: "While it is clear that the idea of national parks in Northern Ireland enjoys some level of support, many of those living in proposed national park areas have not yet been won over by the argument in favour of them.
"Nor have all the political parties at Stormont, meaning that enabling legislation would have little chance of successfully negotiating the Assembly process.
"While the timing is not yet right for the introduction of national parks legislation, the importance of protecting and promoting our environment is too great to simply ignore. I will therefore continue to seek other opportunities to promote and protect our wonderful landscapes and historic buildings for the enjoyment and benefit of locals and visitors alike."