THE Rwanda National Police has issued a stern warning against illegal felling of trees for charcoal burning and other illegal practices.
The warning follows a Wednesday operation in Gashora Sector, Bugesera District, where 15 people were arrested over illegally felling trees and burning charcoal.
The Eastern Region Police spokesperson, Emmanuel Karuranga, cautioned those involved in the practice.
“We understand there are some people who have taken it upon themselves to break environmental protection law by cutting trees for charcoal burning, but they should also know that we have our ears to the ground,” Karuranga said.
“This illegal practice is common in Bugesera, where some people fell Umushikiri tree which they traffic to other countries. We will continue to pursue such people to face the law,” he added.
Umushikiri, which is mostly found in Eastern Province, is used as a raw material for making perfume and lotions.
The cutting and trafficking of the species is punishable under Article 412 of the organic law on the demolition and environmental degradation, whose sentence ranges from six months to three years in jail, or a fine not exceeding Rwf3 million.
Karuranga said many culprits have been arrested in operations targeting people felling trees for illegal reasons.
Police in the district also arrested a driver of a truck transporting Umushikiri stumps to Uganda.
Karuranga appealed to the community to continue their “noble cause” by providing information on people involved in illegal activities.