28 November 2014

HCV and HCS – what’s the difference?

HCV and HCS – what’s the difference?

The terms High Conservation Value (HCV) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) are becoming increasingly common as companies seek to build the sustainability of their resource base. But with increasing use comes increasing confusion – why are there two terms, what do they mean and what’s the difference? Proforest’s specialists provide some answers in a new briefing note.

The HCV approach was first developed by the FSC and adopted in 1999. It is designed to maintain or enhance six environmental and social values in production landscapes. It is not intended to prevent all deforestation, but to maintain environmental and social values of particular importance. 

A range of certification schemes, including the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Roundtable for Responsible Soy (RTRS), now use the HCV approach as part of their requirements. Global retailers, banks, processors and distributors of wood, paper and vegetable oils have also integrated requirements about HCVs into their procurement and investment policies. 

The HCS approach is a more recent development. It was initially developed by the palm oil company Golden-Agri Resources Ltd (GAR), Greenpeace and The Forest Trust (TFT), with the aim of achieving GAR’s commitment to a no deforestation footprint. The methodology, which was launched in 2013, goes beyond the identification of high carbon areas: it is a strategy for achieving no deforestation by identifying and protecting viable natural forest areas, areas of HCV and community lands. The main novelty of the HCS approach is its methodology for separating HCS areas (viable natural forest) from non-HCS areas (degraded land). 

In practical terms the two approaches – HCV and HCS – overlap substantially, and indeed, HCS explicitly incorporates the findings of an HCV assessment. However, as yet there is no formalised method for combining HCV and HCS approaches in practice. 

Proforest’s new briefing note provides a clear technical comparison of the two approaches. Our team builds on their extensive experience of applying the HCV approach for many years, and our growing understanding of the HCS approach. We provide services in the assessment of both HCV and HCS, separately or in combination, and would be happy to discuss your needs. 

For more details, read the Briefing Note and contact David Hoyle [david@proforest.net] or Mike Senior [mike@proforest.net] 

Category: Supporting companies

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