Deforestation in Amazon rainforest hits worst rate in 10 years

Deforestation in Amazon rainforest hits worst rate in 10 years
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Brazilian officials announced on Friday that deforestation in the Amazon rainforest has reached its worst level in a decade. 

Buzzfeed reported that about 7,900 square kilometers, which is the equivalent of about 3,050 square miles, of rainforest was cleared out between August 2017 and July 2018. 

BuzzFeed, citing data from GreenPeace Brazil, noted that the data means about 1.185 billion trees were cut down. 

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The news outlet notes that the official data from Brazil comes amid concerns that president-elect Jair Bolsonaro's time in office will only lead to an increased rate of deforestation. 

Bolsonaro pledged to limit fines for damaging forests during the 2018 presidential campaign. An aide to Bolsonaro has also said that the president-elect's new administration will merge the agriculture and environmental ministries, BBC reported. 

The move is one that critics say could endanger the rainforest. 

The latest figures show that deforestation increased by 13.7 percent from the previous year. 

Environment Minister Edson Duarte claimed that "an upsurge in organized crime" led to the rise, adding that the country must fight against "environmental violations and in defense of sustainable development of the biome."

The BBC notes that the newly released data still indicates that deforestation has dropped considerably since the early part of the 21st century. 

The new data represents a 72 percent drop from 2004, BBC reported, which was the year the Brazilian government began implementing measures to combat deforestation.