Police have warned the public against encroaching on forest reserves and illegal cutting of trees.
The warning follows the arrest of 10 people in Nyaruguru District early this week, for allegedly cutting down about one-and-half hectares of trees in the gazetted forests in Gakoma and Nyange cells of Kibeho Sector.
The suspects apparently cut the trees to burn charcoal.
Police identified the suspects as Damascene Nikuze, Alphonse Ntakirutimana, Nshimiyimana, Simon Nyamagana and Viateur Ndayisenga.
Others are Emmanuel Mayira, André Nkeshimana, Eugene Ntirushimana, Eugene Semagazi and Emmanuel Ngirumpatse.
They are currently detained at Mata Police station.
The organic law determining the modalities of protection, conservation and promotion of environment in Rwanda prohibits the felling of trees in forests and protected areas.
The Southern region police spokesperson, Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Andre Hakizimana said; “Cutting of trees or deforestation contributes to environment degradation, which in one way or another has an effect on people’s health and the ecosystem, which we can’t allow.”
“These are acts that are against the environmental law and other legal instruments like the penal code in its article 416.”
The said penal code article also sets penalties of up to two years imprisonment.
He appealed to communities residing near forestry reserves to take the lead to conserve them and report those who encroach on them.