Police in Gicumbi district has arrested three suspects in connection with illegal logging in a gazetted forest.
The suspects have been identified as Sylvester Nayigiziki, 32, Sugira Yamuragiye, 18, and Sylvester Hategikimana 38 – they are held at Byumba Police Station.
Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Hamdun Twizeyimana, the Northern Region Police Spokesperson said that the trio was caught red handed felling trees and burning charcoal.
According to Claudien Kalisa, the Executive Secretary of Ruvune Sector, the forest located in Mataba Village of Gasambya Cell was originally 320 hectares but due to charcoal burning activities the forest is almost half its original size.
Meanwhile, CIP Twizeyimana said that seven people have so far been arrested in various operations. “All those arrested were found cutting trees and burning charcoal in the same forest,” the spokesperson said.
Kalisa said that they are working with the Police and residents to ensure that all those behind these environmental degradation activities are identified and arrested.
“Fighting and preventing these environmental crimes involves sensitisation but also working with the Police in operations to arrest those who refuse to listen to repeated calls to desist from these criminal acts,” Kalisa said.
Experts say safeguarding forests is not just the most cost-effective way to mitigate climate change; well-managed forests also ensures generation of reliable water flow, clean air, sustainable timber products, soil stabilization and nutrient recycling among several benefits.
Article 416 of the penal code states that any person, who illegally burns a forest, cuts trees or who causes others to do so or kills animals in classified forests, protected areas and national parks, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of six months to two years and a fine of Rwf300, 000 to Rwf2 million or one of these penalties.