The warning follows separate operations targeting people, who destroy Ibisi bya Huye, a gazetted forest.
According to Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Sylvestre Twajamahoro, the Police spokesperson for Southern region, over 100 people have been arrested cutting trees in operations conducted in the last three weeks.
“We have conducted separate operations against deforestation in this gazetted forest. In the last three weeks, we have arrested over 100 people, who fell more than 2000 trees," said CIP Twajamahoro.
In the latest operation conducted Monday, he said, they arrested one person identified as Emmanuel Nshimiyimana, 25, a resident of Maraba Sector, Kabuye Cell, Rukeri Village, who was found cutting trees.
“The operations to arrest those suspects were due to information provided by residents of the area, who are supplementing the efforts to protect the forest."
Trees are mainly cut for timber, charcoal and construction.
CIP Twajamahoro warned local residents against acts of deforestation, which lead to environmental degradation and negatively affects the community.
“Such environmental crimes are a major drive to climatic change and loss of habitat, which pose a threat to species,” he said.
"If people want to boost their business, they should do it in the most legal and appropriate way. Forests are protected for environmental reasons and anyone that encroaches on them will be arrested to face justice," CIP Twajamahoro warned.
Charcoal burning, illegal timber business and bush burning are some of the activities that endanger the environment in the area.
Environmental experts say that the world’s forests, swamps, plains, lakes, and other habitats continue to disappear due to human activities including charcoal burning, agriculture, housing, roads, timber, and more.
The law on environment, prohibits cutting trees in forests or protected areas like national parks or burning them especially in article 44.
Article 59 of the same legal instrument, states that any person, who causes death, destroys protected plants, harvests or damages them, commits an offence.”
Upon conviction, the offender is liable to an imprisonment term of not less than three years and not more than five years and a fine of between Rwf1 million and Rwf3 million.