(CNN)The coronavirus pandemic has slowed the global economy, but deforestation in the Amazon is speeding up. While most of Brazil's major businesses remain shuttered under lockdowns and quarantine measures, many believe illegal loggers and miners continue to operate in the area with little to no regulation.
Deforestation in the Amazon is accelerating despite coronavirus
Deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest increased by nearly 64% in April this year, compared to the same month last year, shows data from Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE). Last month alone, more than 156 square miles (405.6 square kilometers) of rainforest were destroyed -- a vast swath more than double the size of Washington, DC.
The first trimester of 2020 had already seen a more than 50% increase in deforestation compared to last year, according to INPE data.
More than 3,000 soldiers from the Brazilian Armed Forces have been deployed to the Amazon, along with environmental officials, to help curb illegal logging and other criminal activities that could impact the rainforest, according to the Defense Ministry.
President Jair Bolsonaro has previously faced global criticism and condemnation for the deforestation occurring under his watch. The far-right and pro-business president has vowed to explore the rainforest's economic potential.