Record levels of deforestation continue unabated in the Brazilian Amazon and in May alone, 1,180 square kilometres of the rainforest were chopped down, according to official data.
It marks a 41 per cent increase compared to the same month a year earlier, the data released by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) on Friday revealed.
It is also the third month in a row to see record levels of Amazon deforestation, and the first time since records began that deforested area exceeded 1,000 square kilometres, dpa news agency reported.
Greenpeace Brazil said the preliminary data shows the risks the Amazon, one of the world’s largest reserves of biodiversity, is exposed to day after day.
Climate think tank Observatorio do Clima said the data is particularly worrying because May marks the beginning of the dry season, when the practice of clear-cutting to clear trees from sites accelerates in the Amazon region.
If this trend continues for the next two months, the annual rate of deforestation for 2021, which is measured from August to July, could hit an unprecedented high, the think tank warned.
Brazil owns a large part of the Amazon, about the size of Western Europe, that stretches across nine states.
This ownership makes it a key player when it comes to the fight against climate change.
US climate envoy John Kerry recently called on Brazil to help fight climate change and make efforts to preserve the Amazon region.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, however, is more in favour of opening up the Amazon region to economic exploitation, and environmental authorities have been deliberately weakened.
He is also accused of creating a climate where farmers feel encouraged to take land for their own agricultural use.