In this section we provide an overview of the framework for ‘Caring for Mourne’ and we tell you about Mourne Heritage Trust and the work we do. You can find out about the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty designation and why the Mournes is such as special landscape deserving of this recognition. We also introduce the AONB Management Plan that sets out objectives and actions for protecting and enhancing these qualities. Then we tell you about how Mourne Heritage Trust is set up and run and provide links to further detail on the work that we specifically do.

Please click on the headings below to access this material.

Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Mourne is one of the eight Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty which together cover a fifth of the land area in Northern Ireland. First designated in 1966 and extended in 1986, it spans 570 square kilometres in the south east of Northern Ireland rising from sea level to 850 metres at the peak of Slieve Donard, Northern Ireland’s highest point. It includes the Mourne mountains, a beautiful coastline, and the ancient uplands of Slieve Croob and the foothills and drumlin country in between.

To find out more about what the AONB designation means click here.

For an overview of the special landscape characteristics that merited the designation of the Mourne AONB designation click here.

Mourne AONB Management Plan

The framework for ‘Caring for Mourne’ is provided by the Mourne AONB Management Plan and accompanying Action Plan which together set out the long term vision for what can be done to protect, conserve and enhance the most important aspects of the area’s landscape. The documents were developed through a period of consultation in 2010 and represent not just a plan for Mourne Heritage Trust but for a range of stakeholders whose activity or decisions affect the Mourne AONB. A non-statutory document, the implementation of the Management Plan draws on the commitment of various agencies and local communities to pursue the principles and activities set out in line with their abilities, priorities and resources. To view our AONB Management Plan and Action Plan click here.

Mourne Heritage Trust

Mourne Heritage Trust is an independent limited company and a registered charity established to meet an identified need for locally based, strategic management of the Mourne AONB. The model of a trust-based partnership was agreed in 1997 by Environment and Heritage Service (now Northern Ireland Environment Agency) and Northern Ireland Tourist Board, in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the three local councils of Banbridge, Down and Newry & Mourne respectively.

The Trust’s mission statement is: 'To sustain and enhance the environment, rural regeneration, cultural heritage and visitor opportunities of the Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and contribute to the well-being of Mourne's communities.' You can find out about the activities we undertake to achieve this mission by clicking here for the ‘Caring for’ section of this website.

To have a look at our online Annual Report which provides company information and showcases our most recent achievements click here.

Mourne Heritage Trust Board

Mourne Heritage Trust is overseen by a Board of Trustees which gives a strategic lead to the management of the AONB. In order to do this it brings together in partnership a range of stakeholders including environmental, landowning, tourism, community, recreation and other relevant interests. Click here to see a list of our Board members.

Mourne Heritage Trust Staff

The Trust has a core staff led by a Chief Executive and including professional countryside services, sustainable tourism and administrative staff. From time to time temporary staff are employed for activities such as path repair or dealing with the peak of countryside management work in the summer months. A number of other staff are employed in specific projects roles and currently include volunteer coordinators, a Mourne Mountains Landscape Partnership team and a mountain bike ranger. Click here to meet our staff team.