Gicumbi: Police urge residents to stand up against environmental degradation
Police in Gicumbi District have called upon residents to stand up against people, who destroy forests.
The acting District Police Commander (DPC) of Gicumbi, Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Laurent Harelimana said that there are some people, who use the cover of the night to cut trees in forest reserves for charcoal burning and building materials.
On Tuesday, Police in Gicumbi arrested a man identified as Habimana Ndungutse, for allegedly destroying part of the gazetted forest located in Rushaki Sector, Karurama Cell in Mbuga Village.
According to CIP Harelimana, Ndungutse committed the offense on June 8, but escaped to the neighbouring Nyagatare District, where he has been hiding.
“Local leaders in Mbuga Village, on June 8, informed our Police station in Rushaki that Ndungutse was cutting trees in the forest to burn charcoal, but he [Ndungutse] got to know about it and managed to escape before he could be arrested. We got information from residents on June 11, that the suspect had returned, he was traced, arrested and handed over to Rwanda Investigation Bureau in Rushaki,”
Ndungutse, who is said to have been involved in such environmental crimes for a while, according to Police, cut at least 40 trees on that day of June 8,
“We call upon the general public to exercise their rights to protect these forests by reporting people who destroy them,” CIP Harelimana said.
The DPC disclosed that they are working with local leaders and residents to establish environmental protection clubs and other teams to protect forest reserves.
Article 40 of the law on environment gives power to the general public to “protect, conserve and promote the environment by individual action or through collective activities; inform competent authorities a phenomenon that may affect the environment.”
In article 5 of the law determining the management and utilisation of forests in Rwanda, gazetted forests are categorized as “protected forests; production forests; and forests reserved for research.”
In article 6, protected state forests and isolated protected trees consist of national parks; natural forests; forests along the shores of rivers and lakes; and isolated protected trees.
Under article 66 of the same law, without prejudice to the provisions of the Penal Code, any person who violates the provisions of this Law shall be liable to an administrative fine from Rwf100, 000 to Rwf1 million.