Brazil's environmental ministry has released preliminary figures showing that deforestation in the Amazon has hit its highest rate in a decade. The grim data comes amid concern about the policies of Jair Bolsonaro, the country's
new president. Between August 2017 and July 2018, approximately 7,900 square kilometers (3,050 square miles) of rainforest was destroyed and that's an area roughly five times the size of London.
The states of Pará, Mato Grosso, and Rondônia accounted for nearly three quarters of the deforestation and the total is 13.7 percent higher than the previous year. Twenty years ago, the level of deforestation was falling steady but things changed in 2013 when President Rousseff approved a new code that gave amnesty to deforestation on small properties.
Environmentalists have raised concerns about the figures and the situation is expected to worsen significantly under Bolsonaro. During his election campaign
, he pledged to limit fines for damaging forestry, allow mining in protected indigenous reserves and consider merging the ministries of agriculture and the environment. Observers have said that these moves could all result in significant further damage to the rainforest.