New documents on logging permits in Ghana indicate most timber exported from the country is likely illegal, exposing purchasers to possible jail time under a new European Union regulation, the environmental watchdog group Global Witness said Tuesday.
In February, Ghana’s Forestry Commission gave Global Witness lists of permits covering more than 15,000 square kilometers (5,800 square miles), or nearly 15 percent of the country’s land mass, the group said in a new report. Permits for more than 12,000 square kilometers (4,600 square miles) were not covered by the country’s 1998 Timber Resources Management Act, calling their legality into question.
“Ghana’s logging permits are in a mess. Of six types of permits issued by the authorities to logging companies, only two fall within the government’s own definition of what is legal,” said David Young, forest sector transparency campaigner for Global Witness.
“Until the government gets its house in order, European buyers should consider all Ghanaian timber products as extremely risky, and make sure they are doing thorough checks along their supply chains,” Young said.