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    Illegal logging up by 150% amid coronavirus lockdowns

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    645,000 hectares of rainforest were cut down illegally in March, as environmental groups warn that the coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating government inaction on illegal deforestation.

    Environmental non-profit WWF said that illegal deforestation had increased by 150% in the sole month of March, following an analysis of satellite data.

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    In March, Indonesia lost 130,000 hectares of forest, making the hardest-hit country, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo and Brazil, which shed 100,000 and 95,000 hectares of rainforest, respectively.

    The WWF said that the coronavirus pandemic had strained authorities’ capacities for monitoring the rainforests.

    “The presence of police and eco-guards on the ground has also decreased, encouraging illegal logging and the plundering of other resources,” Thibault Ledecq, a WWF coordinator in Southeast Asia.

    The group also said that the economic fallout from the pandemic had seen already impoverished populations turn to illegal logging as their regular sources of income vanished.

    In its warning, coinciding with World Environment Day, the advocacy group called on the EU to take action, noting it was the largest importer of food with links to illegal deforestation activities.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times