The Mourne Trustee Groups came into existence following the break up of the Landed Estates from 1880 onwards. The combined Trustees groups are the legal owners of about 25,000 acres of the High Mournes. The extent of the area under their control can best be gauged by an examination of the relevant map in the Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Access Study Report.
While the Trustees are technically the legal owners of the open Mountains they in effect hold them for the beneficial, or what the layman would call the real owners, who funded the monies to acquire the Mountains. At the time the Mountains were acquired the beneficial owners purchased the enclosed tenanted farms from the owners of the Landed Estates. When the area of the lands held by the Trustees and those owned by the beneficial owners are added together it will be seen that collectively these two entities are farming the overwhelming bulk of the area in and around the Mournes. The Trustees and the beneficial owners are thus responsible for the management and protection of the environment and the biodiversity of one of the largest areas in private hands in the Province.
It is worth emphasising that the lands of the Mourne Trustees and the beneficial owners are privately owned.