Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research (Inpe) said that more than 405 sq km (156 sq miles) of the Amazon had been deforested last month compared with 248 sq km in April last year. Between January and April, a total of 1,202 sq km was wiped out, it said. Conservation groups said that, since the coronavirus outbreak began, fewer government enforcement agents had been deployed. Brazil has been one of the worst-affected countries in South America, with 141,000 cases and nearly 10,000 deaths.

“The pandemic has not helped because there are apparently less agents out there and illegal loggers obviously don’t care about the virus in remote areas of the Amazon,” said Paulo Barreto, senior researcher for the non-profit conservation group Imazon. Environmental enforcement agency Ibama said it was scaling back field agents in other at-risk areas but not in the Amazon.

Originally posted at BBC Latin America

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