Pedestrians are to be given access to public forest service land, according to new government legislation.
The new laws will allow the public access to areas managed by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development when it comes into effect on March 17.
That will include the right to walk dogs day or night in 100 forest service managed areas.
Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill said the new laws were designed to help promote the Assembly’s “vision to promote the wider recreational and social use of the department’s forest lands”.
“Public access to open space is a valuable resource, it gives us opportunities for tourism, for sport, it helps us to take exercise and look after our health, and reminds us of our rural environment and heritage,” she said.
“The public right of pedestrian access will complement local government policies on recreation and access to the countryside.”
Also coming into force on the same date are new ‘Forestry Land Bye laws’ which, according to the department, set out restrictions on accessing forest areas.