The Brazilian environment ministry is proposing the release of 860,000 acres in the National Forest of Jamanxim for agricultural use, mining and logging.

The government’s order was a compromise measure after protests from local residents and ecologists who claim that the bill could lead to further deforestation in the Pará area.

If approved, the legislation will create a new protection area (APA) close to Novo Progresso. Around 27 percent of the national forest would be converted into an APA, the ministry said.

Carlos Xavier, president of a lobbying group in Pará to decrease the size of the Jamanxim forest, said the APA would bring economic progress to the region.

According to the ministry, the bill includes stipulations to reduce conflicts over land, prevent deforestation and create jobs.

Read about the destruction of the Cambodian forests here

The measures were criticised by environmental groups. “The bill is seen as an amnesty for illegal occupation of the conservancy unit,” said Observatório do Clima on its website, claiming that the government “yielded to pressure” from the rural lobby.

Carlos Xavier, president of a lobbying group in Para to decrease the size of the Jamanxim forest, said the APA would bring economic progress to the region.

In 2016, deforestation of the Amazon rose by 29 per cent over the previous year, according to the government’s satellite monitoring, the biggest jump since 2008.

Mongabay, an environmental science and conservation website, reports that experts using satellite images have identified illegal logging activities to the east of the BR-163 highway, in Pará state.

The BR-163 protests involved stopping trucks from unloading grains at the riverside location of Miritituba, where barges carrying crops are transported en route to the export markets.