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The Brazilian government said that the Amazon rainforest witnessed deforestation of a record 829 sq km in May, the highest monthly level since 2015.

On Friday, the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said that deforestation in the Amazon increased by 91 sq km compared to the same period last year, reports Xinhua news agency.

Between January and April, destruction of the forest by illegal loggers and ranchers rose 55 per cent, or a total of 1,202 sq km was wiped out, it said.

The Real-time Deforestation Detection system, a federal project created to monitor human activity in the Amazon, alerted authorities to the increase in the rate of destruction of the rainforest.

A recent study by the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) warned that deforestation in 2020 could reach 11,900 sq km if the pace of May, June, and July follows the historical average.

HUMAITA, Aug. 27, 2019 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on Aug. 25, 2019 shows a destroyed eucalyptus plantation after fire in Humaita, the state of Amazonas, Brazil. BRAZIL OUT (Gabriela Biro/Agencia Estado/Handout via Xinhua/IANS) by .
Photo shows a destroyed eucalyptus plantation after fire in Humaita, the state of Amazonas, Brazil. (Gabriela Biro/Agencia Estado/Handout via Xinhua/IANS)

Deforestation in the region has soared since President Jair Bolsonaro took office last year, according to conservation groups.

He has argued that more farming and mining in protected areas of the forest were the only way to lift the region out of poverty.

Bolsonaro’s environmental policies have been widely condemned but he has rejected the criticism, saying Brazil remains an example for conservation.

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