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Police warns public against illegal tree cutting

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A truck packed with tree stumps was intercepted in Bugesera district

Rwanda National Police has called on the public to cooperate in protecting endangered tree species and forests through information sharing, warning that cutting of trees without authorization is illegal & punishable by the law.

Cutting trees in Rwanda is considered as an act of environmental degradation and the government believes that forests are a key component of the life-support system in view of both the products and services they provide.

In the Policy Statement 10: on Forest Biodiversity, the government has implementation strategies such as: Management of existing protected areas; establishing buffer-zone plantations; creating partnerships and informed participation of stakeholders with sanctioned authority; Implementing integrated conservation and development programmes (ICDPs) among local communities and collaboration between relevant sectoral institutions.

Cutting of trees without authorization in Rwanda is illegal and punishable by the law. It is considered as an act of environmental degradation, which has negative impact on nature and humans in particular.

Article 416 of the organic law on environment, partly stipulates that anyone who illegally cuts trees in a forest or any public place, is punishable with a term of imprisonment of between six months and two years and a fine of between Rwf300, 000 to Rwf2 million or one of the two penalties.

On January 20, 2014 two people were arrested in Kamabuye sector of Bugesera District for allegedly felling trees. The duo allegedly cut Perfume trees locally known as ‘umushikiri’, whose stumps they were trying to traffic out of the country.

The suspects were found with one tone of the tree stumps, which they were apparently trying to load on a truck plate number, RAA 275C.

According to Bugesera Police, the suspects after their arrest, tried to bribe the officers to free them, in vain.

The stumps of the local plant mainly found in the Eastern Province, are used as a raw material in the manufacture of perfumes and lotions.

In august 2013, three sets of persons were arrested, in less than one month for allegedly being involved in illegal trafficking of a perfume plant to neighboring countries.

Senior Superintendent Benoit Nsengiyumva, the Eastern Province Spokesperson sternly warned people involved in the criminal act saying “the Police will not blink until they are arrested to face justice.”

“Trafficking and felling of trees without official authorization is a criminal offence which is punishable by the Rwandan laws,” said SSP Nsengiyumva.

He called for more cooperation with public to protect the endangered tree species such as ‘umushikiri’ and forestry in general, through information sharing.

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