The Bolsonaro administration has launched policies that undermine IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency, and ICMBio (The Chico Mendes Institute) which protects the nation’s federal conservation units, by effectively dismantling environmental law enforcement and allowing deforestation to proceed unchecked.Fines imposed for illegal deforestation between Jan. 1 and May 15 this year were down 34 percent from the same period in 2018, the largest percentage drop ever recorded. It was also smallest number of fines ever imposed (850), compared to 1,290 in the same period last year.Government seizures of illegally harvested timber fell even more precipitously, with just 40 cubic meters (1,410 cubic feet), equal to 10 large trees, confiscated in the first four months of 2019. By contrast, 25,000 cubic meters (883,000 cubic feet) of illegal timber were seized in 2018. IBAMA is now required to announce in advance the time and location of all its planned raids on illegal loggers.Bolsonaro has defanged deforestation enforcement further by firing or not replacing top environmental officials. This includes 21 out of 27 IBAMA state superintendents responsible for imposing most of the deforestation fines. Also, 47 of Brazil’s conservation units now lack directors, leaving a combined area greater than the size of England without conservation leadership. The Brazilian government’s environmental agency, IBAMA, has so far this year imposed the lowest number of fines for illegal deforestation in at least 11 years, while the country’s other leading environmental agency and its federal parks’ protector, ICMBio (the Chico Mendes Institute), did not carry out any operations at all to monitor deforestation in May. These developments, reported by the organizations themselves, reflect the extent to which the country’s environmental policies and law enforcement agencies are being dismantled by the government of President Jair Bolsonaro. Fines for illegal deforestation were down 34 percent from Jan. 1 to May 15 this year, compared to the same period last year, according to the O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper. This is the largest percentage drop ever recorded in Brazil. In absolute terms, it marks the smallest number of fines ever (850), compared to 1,290 imposed over the same period in 2018. The last year in which a comparable number of fines (952) were imposed during the same period was 2012 — but this was at a time when real advances were being made in the fight against illegal deforestation. Indeed, 2012 was the year with the lowest level of deforestation in the Brazil Amazon since records began. The number of fines imposed by IBAMA in the first five months of the year has fallen heavily since 2016. This is far from being the case today. Recent figures on illegal deforestation, published by the National Institute of Spatial Research (INPE) and confirmed by the federal government, show that the Amazon region recorded the highest level ever of illegal deforestation for a single month in May 2019: 739 square kilometers (285 square miles), an area nearly as large as New York City. This is a 34 percent increase on the area cleared in May 2018, which was 550 square kilometers (212 square miles). It seems likely that the rise stems from government policies favorable to deforestation. This confirms what an unnamed IBAMA official told Mongabay before the recent INPE figures were published: “It’s very difficult to believe that the decline in fines reflects a decline in illegal deforestation.” Agency employees spoke to Mongabay on background, citing fear of reprisals from the Bolsonaro administration. IBAMA’s press office told Mongabay that its request for an on-the-record interview should be sent to the Ministry of the Environment, but the ministry did not respond, despite multiple Mongabay requests.