The Amazon saw more rainforest destroyed in April than in any other month in the last ten years as it appears loggers are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to increase activities – and threatening to wipe out the territories of indigenous communities.
The Alert System of Deforestation (SAD) in Brazil report that 529 square kilometres of forest were destroyed in the Amazon in April, a rise of 171 percent compared to the same month last year.
SAD, which is part of the Amazon Institute of People and the Environment (IMAZON), warned that the deforestation is taking place on the lands of indigenous communities.
Satellites showed that the territory of the Yanomami people, located between the Brazilian state of Roraima and Amazonas, was particularly affected, with their territory the second-worst affected area in April.
The Yanomami are on a list of people vulnerable to coronavirus created by the Socioenvironmental Institute.
Reports state the relaxing of monitoring by Brazil’s Environmental Ministry had contributed to miners and loggers illegally moving onto public lands, conservation areas and indigenous territories.
SAD report that 32 percent of the deforested land was in the state of Para, the highest percentage, followed by 26 percent in the state of Mato Grosso.
The alarming figures are reportedly particularly worrying to environmentalists as they come before the Amazon’s dry season, which usually runs until October and can see lands destroyed by wildfires.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been criticised for refusing to condemn the destruction of the world’s largest tropical rainforest.
In November 2019 he said that “deforestation and fires will never end,” describing them as “cultural”.
Greenpeace Brazil have previously pointed out that 90 percent of the destruction of the Amazon is illegal.
Bolsonaro campaigned for election in 2018 by saying he would open up more of the Amazon for agriculture and mining and his policies came under international scrutiny after fires devastated large swathes of the Amazon last year.
Brazil is in the midst of Latin America’s worst COVID-19 outbreak, with 271,885 confirmed cases and 17,983 deaths according to the latest figures from the Johns Hopkins University.
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