(CNN) Brazilian researchers detected 2,248 fires in the Amazon last month -- the highest number of fires recorded in the month of June since 2007, according to Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE).
The burning season in the Amazon occurs most heavily in July, August, and September. Last year, the scale of deforestation caused by fires in the Amazon caused scientists to warn of potentially devastating effects on the global climate.
Last June, INPE detected 1,880 fires using satellite imagery. This year, environmental activists say that illegal loggers and ranchers have taken advantage of limited official resources during the coronavirus pandemic to increase their activity in the Amazon, burning wide swaths of the forest. Brazil has the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, second only to the US.
From May to June, INPE´s satellites registered 3,077 fires -- 12.5% more than in the same period in 2019.
The increase in deforestation comes while the country is under the leadership of pro-business President Jair Bolsonaro, who was elected in October 2018. Bolsonaro has been criticized for doing little to protect the rainforest, as he slashed the funding for the Ministry of the Environment and has encouraged mining and logging and other economic activity in the region.