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Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has already hit a new deforestation record this year

According to the INPE report, released on Friday, 941.34 square kilometers (363 square miles) of forest were cleared between January and March this year. It’s the biggest amount recorded since the institute began monitoring deforestation rates in 2016. The cleared area is nearly the size of Dallas, Texas.

Researchers observed a 64% increase compared to the same period last year, when 573.29 square kilometers (221 square miles) had been cleared.

The destruction of the world’s largest rainforest has increased since President Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2019 and has weakened environmental protections, arguing they are hampering economic development that could reduce poverty in the Amazon region.

The president’s office and the Department of the Environment did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A report by the UN’s climate panel warned on Monday that governments are not doing enough to rein in greenhouse gas emissions to stave off the worst effects of global warming. While the use of fossil fuels is mainly to blame, deforestation accounts for around 10% of global emissions, according to the report.

“Brazil is an example of what the UN climate report says when it refers to governments not taking action,” said Cristiane Mazzetti, a forest activist in Brazil for the advocacy group the Greenpeace environment.

“We have a government that is deliberately going against the measures needed to limit climate change.”

Some scientists predict that deforestation will continue to increase ahead of Brazil’s October presidential election, as it has before the last three elections.

Environmental enforcement typically weakens during election years and criminals may rush to deforest before a new government takes office, according to Carlos Souza Jr, a researcher at Imazon, a Brazilian research institution.

On Thursday, Facebook parent company Meta announced that it had deleted 14 Facebook accounts, nine Facebook pages and 39 Instagram accounts for posting false information related to deforestation.

“This network originated in Brazil and targeted domestic audiences in that country,” Meta said in its first quarterly “Adversarial Threat Report.”

Meta’s report says it found “links to individuals associated with the Brazilian military” behind the accounts.

The accounts were engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” which included posting content claiming that deforestation was not entirely harmful and that criticized “legitimate environmental NGOs that have spoken out against deforestation in the Amazon,” the report said. Meta.

CNN has contacted the Brazilian Ministry of Defense for comment.

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