New data from the Brazilian space research institute indicates a surge in deforestation in the Amazon over the last quarter.

Figures published by the National Institute for Space Research show that more forest was lost between May and July this year than during the same period in 2018, 2017 and 2016.

READ MORE: Jonathon Shafi: The EU is complicit in a reckless system that puts money before people

In July alone, the rainforest lost 870 square miles of vegetation, between three and five times the surfaces lost the same month in the past four years.

This is the biggest surge in deforestation rates since the institute adopted its current methodology in 2014.

President Jair Bolsonaro took office on January 1 and critics fear the climate change sceptic's pro-agrobusiness policies will accelerate deforestation.

The institute's president left his position last week after Mr Bolsonaro criticised deforestation data.