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  • Operation of observation conducted by agents of the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, or Ibama, near Novo Progresso, southeast of Para state, Brazil, November 5, 2018.

    Operation of observation conducted by agents of the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, or Ibama, near Novo Progresso, southeast of Para state, Brazil, November 5, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 3 July 2019

"At this time the main actor in the environmental problems in Brazil is sitting in the chair of the president of the republic, in charge of the country," said Greenpeace.

Deforestation in Brazil's portion of the Amazon rainforest soared more than 88 percent in June compared with the same month a year ago, the second consecutive month of rising forest destruction under new right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.

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According to data from Brazil's space agency, deforestation in the world's largest tropical rainforest totalled 920 square kilometers.

The data showing an 88.4 percent deforestation increase is preliminary but indicates the official annual figure, based on more detailed imaging and measured for the 12 months to the end of July, is well on track to surpass last year's figure.

In the first 11 months, deforestation already has reached 4,565 square kilometers, a 15 percent increase over the same period in the previous year. That is an area larger than the U.S. state of Rhode Island.

Environmentalists have warned that Bolsonaro's strong remarks calling for the development of the Amazon and criticizing the country's environmental enforcement agency Ibama for handing out too many fines would embolden loggers and ranchers seeking to profit from deforestation.

"Right now there is a drought in the Amazon forest region, and in that time the land-grabbers, timber merchants, public land invaders, those that cut down the forest, that make money on the destruction, they are advancing into the forest," said GreenPeace Brazil's Coordinator of Public Policy Marcio Astrini.

"It's exactly at this moment that the government should be increasing inspections, but what we are seeing is a decrease in the budget, a president of the republic that fights against those inspectors, a minister of the environment that persecutes those inspectors and doesn't allow them to do their job."

Astrini ancouraged "acts of resistance to not allow this regression to be implemented." 

Brazil is home to 60percent of the Amazon, which is the world's largest tropical rainforest and is seen as vital to the global fight against climate change.

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