Emergency action to deal with an alleged 40% rise in deforestation in the Amazon is planned by Brazil’s environment ministry.

Preliminary figures just released show deforestation in the Amazon jumped to 9,840 square miles last year – the highest since 1995 – from 7,010 square miles in 2001.

Mario Monzoni of Friends of the Earth in Brazil said: “This is shocking. The rate of deforestation should be falling, instead the opposite is happening.”

Brazil’s environment minister Marina Silva said the government was considering real-time monitoring of deforestation and, for the first time, to force all ministries to consider the environment when making policies.