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Destruction of the world’s largest tropical rainforest in November more than doubled the same period last year

An aerial view shows a deforested plot of the Amazon near Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil in September.




An aerial view shows a deforested plot of the Amazon near Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil in September.
Photograph: Bruno Kelly/Reuters

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon jumped to the highest level for the month of November since record-keeping began in 2015, according to preliminary government data published.

Destruction of the world’s largest tropical rainforest totalled 563 square kms in November, which is more than double the area in the same month last year, according to the country’s space research agency INPE on Friday.

That would bring total deforestation for the period from January to November to 8,934 square km, 83% more than in the same period in 2018 and an area almost the size of Puerto Rico.

Deforestation usually slows around November and December during the Amazon region’s rainy season. The number for last month was unusually high.

Researchers and environmentalists blame rightwing president Jair Bolsonaro for emboldening ranchers and loggers by calling for the Amazon to be developed and for weakening the environmental agency called Ibama.

Bolsonaro and environment minister Ricardo Salles have said previous governments played a role in deforestation’s increase, saying policies including budget cuts at agencies like Ibama were in place well before the new government took office on 1 January.

Brazil’s environment ministry had no immediate comment on Friday on the new data for November.

The data released by the space research agency was collected through a system that publishes alerts on fires and other types of developments affecting the rainforest. The numbers are not considered official deforestation data. That comes from a different system called PRODES.

PRODES numbers released last month showed deforestation rose to its highest in over a decade this year, jumping 30% from 2018 to 9,762 square kms.

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