The "acne of highly visible" houses spreading across the NI landscape is a major threat to the countryside, a government advisory body has said.
The CNCC said more robust planning legislation was essential
The Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside said the freeze on one-off countryside house building could present rural opportunities.
It has criticised an absence of "proper statutory management of coastal sites".
There was also a lack of a coordinated strategic zoning of renewable energy from wind and other sources, it said.
The CNCC advises the DoE on matters affecting the natural beauty or amenity of Northern Ireland and on nature conservation issues.
It will present its latest report to Northern Ireland Environment Minister Lord Rooker later on Wednesday.
The council said important natural heritage sites could be vulnerable to damage or loss "due to difficulties in designation as well as monitoring and management of sites".
Its chair, Dr Lucinda Blakiston Houston, said that situation would worsen as more sites were designated.
She said more robust planning legislation was essential to ensure sustainable development of the countryside to encourage a more visionary use of landscape.
"CNCC urges a joint approach involving DoE, DARD and DCAL to explore ways of making the most of opportunities in activities such as angling, accommodation and hill-walking that could stimulate the economy of rural areas, giving local people the chance to use the countryside as a resource.
"Conservation of the countryside is not anti-development nor seeks to fossilise the countryside but rather should ensure that development is appropriate, sustainable and in the right place."
The advisory body said there needed to be more co-ordination within government to deliver an effective waste to energy programme.
It criticised most district councils for failing "on their statutory duty to assert, manage and advertise public rights of way" and urged greater countryside access.
However, the council praised the government for its recently announced consultation on Sustainable Development in the Countryside.