9 October 2013

New guidance for the identification of High Conservation Values


New guidance for the identification of High Conservation Values

The definitions of High Conservation Values were originally developed in the late 1990s by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for the certification of forest areas. Since then, the HCV approach has evolved to include other ecosystems, such as grasslands and freshwater systems, and has been used in the context of an increasing number of commodities, such as oil palm, soy and sugarcane. The approach has also moved from a focus on HCV areas to a focus on the values themselves. Between 2009 and 2011 the HCV Resource Network and FSC worked together with a number of experts and stakeholders from other sustainability schemes to revise the HCV definitions so as to reflect these changes.

In response to these new definitions and the widened scope of use of the HCV approach, the HCV Resource Network asked Proforest to develop updated guidance for the interpretation and identification of HCVs. Since the second half of 2012, Proforest has been engaged in a consultative process to produce a practical user manual for the common interpretation and identification of HCVs. This document, called Common Guidance for Identification of High Conservation Values has now been finalised and is available to download.

The document offers guidance for the interpretation and identification of HCVs globally, for any type of ecosystem, and across all natural resource sectors and standards. It is intended for HCV assessors, especially those working without the benefit of national HCV interpretations, to provide guidance on interpreting the HCV definitions and their applications, with the goal of providing some degree of standardisation in use of the HCV approach.

A second practical guide focussing on the management and monitoring of HCVs will be available early in 2014.


The production of Common Guidance for the Identification of HCVs was financially supported by Proforest, the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Tetra Pak.