Alarm bells are ringing in Brasilia as the Amazon region, the world’s biggest rainforest and ecosystem, is losing its forest cover at much faster rate than the planet can afford. Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon region rose by 28 per cent over the past year, said Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira on Thursday as she called an emergency meeting to stop the process that could have disastrous consequences for the Earth’s climate. “We confirm a 28 per cent increase in the rate of deforestation, reaching 5,843 sq km,” said Ms. Teixeira, quoting provisional statistics for August 2012 to July 2013.

Blaming extensive farming and soyabean production in the northern state of Para and the central-western state of Mato Grosso for the fast depleting forest cover, she said the rate of deforestation in the two Amazonian states was as high as 37 and 52 per cent respectively.

Ms. Teixeira is planning to meet the regional environment secretaries of state next week to demand explanations and find solutions to deal with the situation.

Ms. Teixeira even didn’t spare the federal authorities for their failure to monitor the cutting of trees. “The Brazilian government does not tolerate and does not accept any rise in illegal deforestation,” she said, adding the country was firmly committed to drastically reducing deforestation. Though the figure of 28 per cent is quite big, the rise in absolute terms is the second smallest in recent years as 2012 saw 4,571 sq km of deforestation, following an even more disturbing 6,418 sq km in 2011. The worst year on record was 2004, when 27,000 sq km of forest was lost.

Environmentalists blame the government’s push for big infrastructure projects such as dams, roads and railways for deforestation.