Amazon deforestation hits new high according to latest official figures

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 on Friday.

Destruction of the world’s largest tropical rainforest totaled 563 square km (217.38 square miles) in November, 103% more than in the same month last year, according to the country’s space research agency INPE.

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.

The data comes as a 15-year-old became the latest indigenous person to be murdered on the edge of heavily deforested fringe of the Amazon rainforest.

 Erisvan Soares, the fourth from the Guajajara tribe to be killed in recent weeks was found with knife wounds on Friday in Amarante do Maranhão.

Murders of indigenous people have risen since hard-Right president Jair Bolsonaro came to power in January on a promise to deregulate and open up the Amazon to farmers and loggers.

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

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