RIO DE JANEIRO — Environmentalists are condemning a decree by Brazilian President Michel Temer allowing mining in the heart of the Amazon.

The measure strips protection from a national reserve between the northern states of Para and Amapa and clears the way for the private mining sector to explore the forest.

The gold-rich area is larger than the Netherlands, measuring roughly 18,000 square miles (47,000 square kilometers). It is also home to numerous indigenous tribes.

The Brazilian branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature says Wednesday’s decree will create conflicts between miners, indigenous peoples and conservationists working in the area.

The government says indigenous groups will be protected and the mining will attract foreign investors and create jobs.

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