ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- Environmental watchdog group Global Witness says new documents on logging permits in Ghana indicate most timber exported from the country "carries a high risk of being illegal," exposing purchasers to possible jail time under a new European Union regulation.
The permit lists obtained in February and published Tuesday cover more than 15,000 square kilometers, or nearly 15 percent of the country's land mass. A review by Global Witness revealed that permits for more than 12,000 square kilometers were not covered by the country's 1998 Timber Resources Management Act.
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A new EU regulation that went into effect in March holds importers responsible for ensuring timber has been legally sourced. Violators face jail time of up to two years.
Officials at Ghana's Forestry Commission were not available to comment Tuesday.