FORESTRY Commission in conjunction with the police in Manicaland have intensified the blitz on firewood poachers to combat deforestation.
A hefty fine of up to $200 000 or two years imprisonment will be effected on all those illegally selling or transporting firewood.
The blitz has so far seen 12 people being arrested after being found in possession of firewood and charcoal they could not account for.
Six trucks carrying firewood have so far been impounded since the beginning of August 2021, while 61 confiscations were made after suspects fled.
The operation dubbed: “No to rampant indiscriminate cutting down of trees and firewood” is covering areas around Mutare such as Odzi, Penhalonga and Dora.
Four suspects, Stanley Mukwananzi (26), Joseph Mawena (37), Joshua Zenda (32) and Shepherd Chirukwe have since been arrested in connection with wood poaching.
The truck they were using a 11-tonne Volvo truck was also impounded.
“The operation is going on well. We are working in conjunction with the police. We are glad that it is yielding the desired results as we have managed to make several arrests. We will arrest anyone found in possession of firewood on roadsides, at homesteads and tobacco bans.
“Any driver with a vehicle found illegally transporting firewood will be prosecuted, while the vehicle will be impounded. Fines of up to $200 000 or two years imprisonment will be imposed on all those found on the wrong side of the law,” said Manicaland Provincial Forestry Extension Manager, Mr Phillip Tom.
The illegal cutting of trees has resulted in massive deforestation around residential areas of Dangamvura, Chikanga and Hobhouse.
Wood poachers are now targeting peri-urban and rural areas wantonly cutting down trees.