Conservation organisation The Irish Wildlife Trust has expressed disappointment with a discussion paper from Teagasc.

The paper claims that with the right skill, understanding and application in upland areas "prescribed fire can enable rapid and cost-effective treatment of unwanted vegetation".

The burning of growing vegetation is banned in Ireland from the 1 March to the 31 August.

In the document, the agricultural advisory body discussed the use of prescribed or controlled fire in upland areas.

It states that "changes in agricultural practice and demographics in upland areas have resulted in less intensive grazing regimes, potential land abandonment and greater fuel accumulation and may increase the frequency and severity of wildfire incidence".

Countryside Management Specialist with Teagasc Catherine Keena said that fire has a traditional and an important role in the management of the upland areas.

She said that that there is a need to bring these upland areas into active management, while balancing the agricultural objectives and habitat management in a sustainable manner.

However, the Irish Wildlife Trust's Padraig Fogarty said that this approach and advice from Teagasc is disappointing.

Mr Fogarty said that fires cause huge habitat damage and loss in all areas, especially when controlled burning goes out of control.

The IWT has called for a complete ban on gorse or land burning at any time of year in Ireland.

"We also have to consider the impact these fires have on air and water pollution and the release of greenhouses gasses," Mr Fogarty said.

We need a change of mindset from the likes of Teagasc. That is not just about setting fire to land or causing pollution for the sake of maintaining the status quo."

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association has said that the call to ban all types of land burning is uncalled for.

Hill farmer Padraig Joyce said that the practice of burning dead vegetation on upland areas is an essential part of farming in some marginal and upland areas.

He added that that if the practice was banned, it could lead to the accumulation of vegetation on these upland areas, creating an even greater risk of more destructive fires in the future.

In recent days, the emergency services have responded to several gorse fires throughout the country. A status orange warning for high fire risk has been issued by the Department of Agriculture due to the recent dry spell of weather.