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Amazon in turmoil as deforestation rages on despite coronavirus pandemic

One of the unpredictable consequences of the coronavirus pandemic has been the acceleration of deforestation in Brazilian Amazonia.

The world’s largest tropical rainforest is getting smaller increasingly quickly.

The main reason is that the authorities are quarantined, allowing illegal loggers to range far and wide and do their rampant worst.

Satellite imagery shows a 55% increase in clearance up to April this year, as compared with the same period last year.

An illness that attacks human lungs is bad news for the world’s lungs too.

The Amazon rainforest absorbs greenhouse gases and scientists fear its disappearance will make climate change more pronounced.

The indigenous people are at risk.

While the forest is now defenceless, so are the indigenous peoples who call it home.

Isolated rural communities have been hit hard by Covid-19 and with hospitals few and far between many have had to fend for themselves.

The official death toll in Brazil stands at just over 13,000 but these are hospital fatalities only and the fear is that the real figure may be up to 20 times higher.

  • WWF's Mike Barrett explains why this is a problem for the entire world

President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down the seriousness of the situation.

He has also claimed that the consequences of lockdown for the economy will be more damaging than those of the virus.

But increasingly city mayors and regional governors are encouraging their people to ignore him and stay indoors.

The southern hemisphere is heading into winter, and with Brazil already one of the world’s coronavirus hotspots, the months ahead for the country look bleak indeed.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know