Environment minister Angela Smith last week announced the publication of a discussion paper on Northern Ireland's national park legislation to enable the government to draw up proposals. These will be subject to further consultation in 2005.
"Our task is to devise a model for national parks that suits Northern Ireland," said Smith. "The paper also provides an opportunity to review the adequacy of current arrangements for managing areas of outstanding natural beauty."
In a twin-track approach, Smith is also liaising with members of the Mourne National Park Working Party to formulate proposals announced last year for the country's first national park in the area.