The level of man-made deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest has reached a level not seen for four years.

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Activists say they are worried the rate is increasing under recently elected Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro.

The amount of forest destroyed by humans for reasons other than forest management was 2,254 sq km (870 sq miles) in July – more than double the level of any month since August 2015.

Figures released by Brazil’s own space agency INPE showed that the rate of deforestation has increased sharply since January, when Mr Bolsonaro took power.

In December and January, a total of just 203 sq km was destroyed.

Malu Ribeiro, a project coordinator at SOS Mata Atlantica, an environmental NGO, said: “This is a very serious setback.

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“They are trying to forcefully implement an agenda of deconstruction, of deregulation, with total disrespect for institutions, or science.

“Since the (end of the military regime), in 1985, we’d never seen anything like it.”

The release of the latest figures has heightened a row in Brazil after the government sacked the head of the INPE last week.

He was replaced on Tuesday by an officer in the Brazilian air force.

At a press conference, Mr Bolsonaro said he suspected agency officials of manipulating figures to make his administration look poor.

It came after the June figures were questioned by Mr Bolsonaro’s environment minister Ricardo Salles, who was previously found guilty of breaking environmental protection laws when he was a regional official.

After the sacking, INPE released a press release saying it was “reaffirming its confidence” in its own data.

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Scientists and academics have also come out in support of the INPE and its former president, which have denied the accusations.

While the latest deforestation figures are causing concern for environmentalists, activists say they are likely to underestimate the true scale of deforestation as they are based on a limited set of reports.

The more accurate results will be released at the end of the year.

Environmentalists had hoped the days of the 1980s and 1990s which saw large scale illegal logging and destruction of the rainforest were over, after previous Brazilian governments imposed tough controls over what could and couldn’t be cut down.

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Some have expressed fears that the effective satellite-based monitoring system that has been put in place to keep tabs on the scale of illegal deforestation could be dismantled under the new president.

Over the past seven months, Mr Bolsonaro and Mr Salles have worked to weaken environmental legislation.

The president said he was working on a proposal to legalise previously illegal mining in protected areas.

It is feared that the rise in Amazon basin logging is leading to clashes between indigenous groups and those moving on to their territory.

Heavily armed gold miners were reported to have stabbed to death an indigenous leader in Amapa state just over a week ago.

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