14 January 2021

Supporting smallholders to protect biodiversity when establishing new farms


Supporting smallholders to protect biodiversity when establishing new farms

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has recently developed a new independent smallholder (ISH) standard to be more accessible to ISHs, increase ISH certification and ultimately improve their livelihoods. A barrier previously had been the requirement for ISHs to conduct expensive and complicated High Conservation Value (HCV) assessments, something beyond the reach of most ISHs. To address this RSPO commissioned Proforest, with support from Daemeter, HCV Resource Network, WRI and in consultation with a taskforce of RSPO members to develop a simplified HCV tool for ISHs. This allows ISHs to establish new farms in appropriate locations which protecting important biodiversity and ecosystems. 

The tool involves use of a mobile application (developed by a Malaysian developer, Alphapod) that can be used offline by group managers or lead farmers to: 

  • Map the boundaries of their planned farm, 
  • View HCV 1-3 probability maps, prepared by Proforest and Daemeter, to show possible HCVs present on the land, and 
  • Collect simple field data through a simple survey and by taking photos. 

After completing the field surveys, the group manager uploads the survey and is able to produce an automated report with maps and management recommendations that they can use to meet RSPO requirements.