All posts by HCS Approach

Upcoming HCV-HCSA Assessment Manual Webinar

The HCV Resource Network (HCVRN) will be hosting a webinar to present the HCV-HCSA Assessment Manual and explain ALS quality assurance of integrated assessments. The webinar is open for anyone who is interested in learning more about HCV-HCSA assessments or has any questions. Details are as below:

HCV-HCSA Assessment Manual Webinar
Date: Wednesday, 6 December 2017
Time: 9.00am – 10.00am (GMT) / 4.00pm – 5.00pm (WIB)
Click here for more details and to register. Alternatively, you can directly register here.

For more information, kindly contact us at info@highcarbonstock.org or HCVRN Secretariat directly at secretariat@hcvresourcenetwork.org.

Announcement: RSPO and HCSA SG to formalise dialogue on ‘No Deforestation’ Guidelines for inclusion into RSPO Standards

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the Executive Committee of the High Carbon Stock Approach Steering Group (HCSA SG) announce their intention to undertake exchanges on how to implement no-deforestation commitments within the RSPO Principles and Criteria Review process.

The process has already started with the formation of a small joint committee involving representatives of RSPO Secretariat, RSPO P&C Task Force and the HCSA SG Executive Committee to discuss proposals for the inclusion of the HCS Approach to address no-deforestation in the RSPO P&C. The P&C review Task Force will then deliberate in their next meeting (22-24 November) whether these proposals should be included, adapted or not incorporated into the next version of the revised RSPO P&C.

For more information you can contact the Secretariat at info@highcarbonstock.org.

Announcement: Opening for Senior Position at HCS Approach Steering Group

Over the past years, the HCS Approach has expanded its work streams and efforts tremendously, driven by a great deal of volunteer work by the Executive Committee and the Co-Chairs in particular. We are grateful for these valuable contributions, without which we could not have achieved many of our successes as a new organisation. To ensure that we can maintain this level of effort and grow our activities, the Executive Committee is now looking for an outstanding individual to lead the continued work with the support of the Secretariat.

Please find the job description for the post here.

Interested candidates or organisations should contact the Secretariat at info@highcarbonstock.org by 31 October 2017 with a cover letter and CV. Please indicate any special requirements for confidentiality.

Thank you.

Announcement: New HCV-HCS video by HCVRN & Bahasa Indonesia version of HCS Approach video available

HCV Resource Network (HCVRN) has recently released an animated video explaining what High Conservation Value (HCV) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) are, and how they work together. This animation has been specifically created for consumer goods companies with no-deforestation commitments. Many retailers and consumer goods manufacturers have committed to eliminating deforestation from their operations. The HCV and HCS approaches can help companies to implement their no-deforestation commitments, but what do they mean in practice? To find out, check out the video here:

For more information on HCVRN and what they do, please visit their website here.

We are also pleased to announce that the HCS Approach Introduction Video is now also available in Bahasa Indonesia and can be found here:

Should you have any questions about HCV-HCS you may contact us at info@highcarbonstock.org or the HCVRN Secretariat at info@hcvnetwork.org.

Announcement: New HCS Approach Steering Group members

The High Carbon Stock Approach Steering Group is pleased to announce that five new members have joined the Steering Group since March 2017.

Conservation International is an NGO with the goal of saving and protecting nature through science, policy, and partnerships with countries, communities and companies. The organisation is active in empowering societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature and global biodiversity. More information is available on their website: www.conservation.org.

EcoNusantara is an independent organisation that provides expert services and advice on vital issues in the fields of environmental and social responsibility. The organisation has experience working on forest, climate, ocean and livelihood issues in Southeast Asia and is driven by the goal to delink unsustainable natural resource use from development. More information is available on their website: www.econusantara.org.

Greenbury & Associates is a sustainability advisory firm, which operates under PT. Mitra Putri Hijau. The firm observes and analyses the environment to support and guide key stakeholders in building a solid strategy to achieve responsible green growth and investment. Greenbury & Associates was founded by Aida Greenbury, who has more than 20 years of experience in the fields of sustainability and forestry management. More information is available on their website: greenbury.net.

IOI Group is a global integrated palm oil player and property developer cum investment company in Malaysia. Its plantation business covers Malaysia and Indonesia with a land bank of more than 230,000 hectares. IOI is the first Malaysian plantation company to join the HCS Approach Steering Group. As a previous signatory of the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto (SPOM), IOI is also the first member to join the Steering Group since the HCS Convergence Agreement in November 2016. More information is available on their website: www.ioigroup.com.

Mighty, a project of the Center for International Policy, is a global campaign organisation that focuses on conserving threatened landscapes like tropical forests, protecting oceans, and solving climate change. Mighty’s campaigns have played a role in persuading large food and agriculture companies to adopt policies to eliminate deforestation and human rights abuse from their supply chains. More information is available on their website: www.mightyearth.org.

Information about Steering Group membership can be accessed at the Governance page here.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the HCS Approach Steering Group Secretariat at info@highcarbonstock.org.

New Integrated HCV-HCS Assessment Manual & Call For Public Consultation

The High Carbon Stock Approach (HCS Approach) Steering Group is collaborating with HCV Resource Network (HCVRN) to develop procedures for integrated HCV-HCS assessments to support the identification of High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests alongside High Conservation Values (HCVs). A detailed technical HCV-HCS assessment manual is currently under preparation by the HCVRN and the HCS Approach HCV-HCS-FPIC Integration & Protection Working Group to create a step by step guidance narrative for conducting joint HCV and HCS assessments which will be recognised by the Assessor Licensing Scheme (ALS) of the HCVRN.

With the new guidance, all joint HCV-HCS assessments will need to follow the upcoming HCV-HCS Assessment Manual and new quality assurance procedures via the HCV Assessor Licensing Scheme (ALS). This integration is applicable to companies who have commitments to no deforestation of High Carbon Stock (HCS) and protection of High Conservation Value (HCV) areas.

Once the guidance is published:

  1. It will be compulsory for any new HCV-HCS assessments to follow the new HCV-HCS Assessment Manual;
  2. An ALS-licensed assessor will need to be hired to lead the HCV-HCS assessment (where the assessor must submit the assessment report to the ALS for evaluation); and
  3. At least one member of the assessment team must have training in the HCS methodology. The HCS Approach Secretariat is developing a new training program for practitioners to refresh current HCS licenses and allow for new practitioners to be trained.

The new HCV-HCS Assessment Manual is expected to be published by August 2017. For more information on the implications of integrated HCV-HCS assessments for companies, you may find the factsheet available here.

Currently, the HCVRN is conducting a 30-day public consultation to gather input from interested stakeholders. For further details on providing your feedback/comments, kindly find the link to the HCVRN website here.

Should you have any questions, please contact us info@highcarbonstock.org.

Announcement: Toolkit Version 2.0 Launched – A global methodology for putting no deforestation into practice

Today, a new and unified global methodology for protecting natural forests and identifying lands for responsible commodity production was released by a coalition of industry and Non-Governmental Organisations. The High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach Toolkit represents a breakthrough for companies, communities, institutions, and technical practitioners that have a shared commitment to protecting regenerating and secondary forests that provide essential carbon storage, habitat for biodiversity and livelihoods for local communities.

“Allowing deforestation for plantations is a thing of the past. Today, we have released an open-sourced toolkit that provides a practical, and scientifically robust technical guide to identify and protect tropical forests,” said Grant Rosoman, the Co-Chair of the High Carbon Stock Approach Steering Group.

The first version of the HCS Approach Toolkit was released in April 2015. The revised version released today has incorporated the latest scientific research, feedback from on-the-ground trials as well as new topics and inputs from working groups of the HCS Approach Steering Group, a multi-stakeholder membership organisation that governs the HCS Approach. The new toolkit also presents refinements, additions and important changes to the methodology, as a result of the ‘Convergence Agreement’ between HCS Approach and HCS+ Study in November 2016. With the completion of the HCS Approach Toolkit Version 2.0, the High Carbon Stock Approach Steering Group will now focus on piloting and trialing its adapted methodology for smallholders and farmers and strengthened social requirements that were developed as part of the HCS convergence process.

The HCS Approach Toolkit Version 2.0 is available here.

To view the full statement, please click here.

A new video on the HCS Approach was showcased during the launch, and is available here:

Should you have any questions about the outcomes of this meeting, please contact: info@highcarbonstock.org.

Joint NGO media briefer on High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach

WWF, RAN, FPP, GREENPEACE

NOVEMBER 2014

What is the HCS Approach?

The HCS Approach is being developed as a tool to help companies and other stakeholders implement commitments to end deforestation. It builds on the methodology developed by Golden Agri Resources, Greenpeace and TFT since 2011. It aims to provide a practical and credible way to identify degraded areas suitable for potential plantation development and forest areas that merit protection to maintain and enhance carbon, biodiversity and social values. In practice, the approach integrates HCS assessments with High Conservation Value (HCV) assessments, the protection of peat lands, processes to accommodate local communities’ livelihoods and aspirations, and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities to give or withhold their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) to proposed developments that may affect their lands.

How is the HCS Approach used to implement No Deforestation commitments?

The last year has seen an increasing number of producer and consumer companies make commitments to break the link between palm oil and and negative environmental and social impacts, including deforestation. Various consumer companies including Mars, Nestle, Colgate Palmolive and Unilever, refer to the HCS methodology in their responsible sourcing policies.  Protection of HCV areas and HCS forests, in combination with upholding human and workers rights, including obtaining FPIC for any new developments has become the basis of a No Deforestation commitment. To ensure its credibility it is crucial that companies cease all vegetation clearance while these assessments are taking place by credible assesors and community consent is sought, similar to the proper implementation of the New Plantings Procedure under Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

Why is the HCS Approach needed?

As NGOs, we have seen that measures to protect forests under the current RSPO standard are not strict and robust enough. High Conservation Value assessments generally do not lead to the conservation and restoration of the majority of secondary or degraded forests inside the concession. The HCS methodology was developed as a tool to identify and protect forested areas in addition to HCV assessments and respecting FPIC, which are mandatory under RSPO. We encourage the RSPO to further strenghten its principles and criteria to include the protection of HCS forests. Until the RSPO is able to deliver physically certified and deforestation free palm oil, companies can use the Charter of the Palm Oil Innovation Group to obtain third party verification of their commitments to protect HCS forests under a No Deforestation commitment.

What is the HCS Approach Steering Group?

A multi-stakeholder body called the HCS Steering Group was recently set up to oversee and govern the HCS Approach. The group will lead a process for further development and global standardisation of the HCS methodology. This includes seeking reviews and advice from a science committee and expert guidance based on a range of field trials. In addition to standardisation, to assist its widespread adoption, the Steering Group will develop a process to ensure quality control of the use of the methodology.  Furthermore, a ‘Consultation Forum’ is being established to inform and receive feedback from key stakeholder groups including consumer companies, governments, community organisation, as well as coordinate with institutions including the RSPO, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the High Conservation Value Resource Network. It will reach out to other parties developing thinking and practice on HCS assessments. While the starting point for HCS was in the palm oil industry, this tool can also be useful for different plantation industries. The HCS Steering Group intends to further develop a cross-commodity approach to identifying and protecting HCS forests.

Who is involved in the HCS Approach Steering Group?

The initial executive committee of the Steering Group is comprised of the following organisations: Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), Greenpeace and WWF; plantation companies: Agropalma, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) and Wilmar and the technical support company TFT.  Other palm oil producers involved in the Steering Group are New Britain Palm Oil and Cargill. The Steering Group invites all relevant stakeholders to participate in this credible multi-stakeholder forum.  Consumer companies Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Nestle have expressed support and interest to engage in this process.

What is the difference between the HCS Approach Steering Group and the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto’s High Carbon Study?

A study on High Carbon Stock has been initiated by the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto  (SPOM) group. As NGOs we do not support the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto as it falls short of the new benchmarks for responsible palm oil production and trade. We are not involved with the SPOM Steering Committee and this committee is currently not a multistakeholder driven initiative. However, we are looking forward to the results of their HCS study, and hope that its findings will further strengthen the HCS Approach as it is currently implemented by various other companies. The HCS Approach is a tool to put in practice commitments to break the link between palm oil and deforestation. The HCS Approach Steering Group will consider any recommendations from the HCS Study that will contribute to this goal.

A important element of the HCS Approach is that companies stop the clearance of forested areas while HCS assessments are carried out to identify areas for conservation and what can potentially be developed. While the SPOM companies initially were hesitant to commit to this, their recent announcement to temporarily halt the clearance of potential HCS is a good first step. Uncertainly remains on how they define ‘potential HCS forests.’ We urge the SPOM companies to adopt strong social and environmental safeguards for all the palm oil they use through their supply chains.

 

Steering Group established to oversee the High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach for implementing ‘No Deforestation’ commitments

A group of leading plantation companies with commitments to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains, NGOs and technical support organisations met on 25th and 26th August in Singapore to establish a governance and standardisation body for the methodology, known as the High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach, to be used to implement these commitments.
The group will work together to demonstrate that immediate action can be taken to break the link between deforestation and high-risk commodities, such as palm oil and pulp and paper. The companies involved are Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), Cargill, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), Golden Veroleum Liberia, Wilmar and the producer members of the Palm Oil Innovation Group, Agropalma and New Britain Palm Oil. All have agreed to stop any further land clearing for plantations until High Carbon Stock assessments have been completed and management plans enacted to protect High Carbon Stock areas.

The international NGOs involved include Conservation International, Forest Heroes, Forest Peoples’ Programme (FPP), Greenpeace, National Wildlife Federation, Rainforest Action Network, Rainforest Alliance, Union of Concerned Scientists and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and as observers, The Nature Conservancy and World Resources Institute as well as the technical support organisations Daemeter, Proforest and The Forest Trust (TFT).

The HCS Approach is being developed as a tool to help companies and others implement commitments to end deforestation. The methodology to implement the approach aims to provide a practical and credible way to identify degraded areas suitable for plantation development and forest areas that merit protection to maintain and enhance carbon, biodiversity and social values. In practice the approach is to integrate HCS assessments with High Conservation Value (HCV) assessments, protection of peatlands, and processes to accommodate local communities’ livelihoods and aspirations, respect their rights to their lands and to give or withhold their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) to proposed developments.

The mission of the HCS Steering Group is ‘To ensure that there is a practical, transparent, robust, and scientifically credible approach that is widely accepted to implement commitments to halt deforestation in the tropics while ensuring that the rights, livelihoods and aspirations of local peoples are respected.’

The HCS Approach was first developed by Golden Agri Resources, TFT and Greenpeace in 2011. Since then, it has gained wider support from companies as part of a suite of actions to deliver on their commitments to prevent further deforestation. Various consumer companies including Mars, Nestle, Colgate Palmolive, Neste Oil and Unilever, refer to the HCS methodology in their responsible sourcing policies.

The group which met in Singapore nominated an HCS Steering Group to lead a process for further development and global standardisation of the HCS methodology. This includes seeking review and advice from a science committee and expert guidance based on a range of field trials. To assist its widespread adoption, the Steering Group will develop a process to ensure quality control of the use of the methodology, in coordination with institutions including the RSPO, FSC and the High Conservation Value Resource Network. The HCS Steering Group is also intending to reach out to other parties developing thinking on HCS assessments.

The initial Steering Group is comprised of the following organisations: NGOs FPP, Greenpeace and WWF; plantation companies: Agropalma, APP, GAR and Wilmar and the technical support company TFT. A ‘Consultative Forum’ will be formed to ensure that the Steering Group receives feedback from any interested stakeholder and can share progress of the HCS Approach. The Steering Group invites all relevant stakeholders to participate in this forum.

Joint statement by:

Conservation International / Forest Heroes / Forest Peoples’ Programme / Greenpeace /National Wildlife Federation / Rainforest Action Network / Rainforest Alliance / Union of Concerned Scientists / World Wide Fund for Nature / Agropalma / Asia Pulp and Paper / Cargill / Golden Agri-Resources / Golden Veroleum Liberia / New Britain Palm Oil / Wilmar / Daemeter / Proforest / The Forest Trust

The members of the Steering Group:

Agropalma / Marcello Brillo / marcello@agropalma.com.br
APP/ Aida Greenbury / Aida_greenbury@app.co.id
Forest Peoples Program / Patrick Anderson / patrick@forestpeoples.org
Golden Agri Resources / Peter Heng / peterheng@goldenagri.com.sg
Greenpeace / Grant Rosoman / grosoman@greenpeace.org
The Forest Trust / Claire Adam / c.adam@tft-forests.org
Wilmar / Sharon Chong / sharon.chong@wilmar.com.sg
WWF/ Aditya Bayunanda / ABayunanda@wwf.or.id

Protecting high carbon stocks and high conservation values in palm oil – complementary or competing approaches?

From http://betterpalmoildebate.org/

The last two years have seen a rapid proliferation of sustainability commitments in palm oil. Alongside increasing numbers of producers committing to established certification schemes, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), leading supply chain actors are pledging to go beyond certification and source “No deforestation, No peat, No exploitation” palm oil. These events are proof that business is responding to consumer demands for change. But some have raised concern the trend risks causing confusion and loss of momentum, as decision-makers ponder which route to sustainability they should pursue. The emergence of High Carbon Stock (HCS) assessment as a complement to High Conservation Value (HCV) approaches for mitigating impacts illustrates the opportunities and challenges presented by recent trends. How doHCS and HCV differ? Are they alternative or complementary tools? How does committing to one effectively safeguard the other?

I suggest that HCS and HCV share much more in common than they differ, and over time should be combined into a single, integrated, transparent assessment tool for mitigating impacts of palm oil.

“The two concepts are closely interrelated, suggesting they could be combined into a single, comprehensive assessment tool”

Since 2007, HCV has served as the key provision for protecting forests and biodiversity under the RSPOstandard. Where robustly applied, HCVhas markedly reduced impacts of certified plantations, reducing intact forest clearance and peat land development for new plantations. In some cases, however, HCV assessors have recommended large-scale deforestation and peatland development, despite clear indications of severe impacts. High profile cases of this have led some groups to question HCV as a tool for achieving sustainability, and push instead for adoption of HCS, a newer concept that offers stricter, more explicit forest protections.

HCS and HCV are often portrayed as alternatives, but this overlooks their many commonalities. Both require mapping of current forest cover and condition, ground surveys to verify mapping and record social and environmental values, and direct consultation with local stakeholders to determine go and no-go areas for development. Because HCS is designed to protect forests, whereas HCV aims to maintain critical values, the management recommendations made by each will sometimes differ. But even so, final decisions for no-go areas under the HCSapproach require cross-referencing to HCV, and reconciliation of recommendations once completed. The two concepts are, therefore, in principle and in practice closely interrelated, suggesting they could be combined into single, comprehensive assessment tool. How can this be achieved?

Possibilities for combining HCS and HCV are twofold. The first instance suggests formally integrating HCS within the HCVframework, such as under the banner of Environmental Services embodied in HCV4. The second possibility would require HCSland cover mapping as a robust preparatory step that feeds intoHCV assessment.

Requiring HCS mapping as an input to HCV would enable field verification surveys for HCS and HCV to be combined, improving data quality and reducing costs. HCS and HCV findings would then be combined and reconciled to delineate go and no-go areas, an approach already being tested by producers committed to both HCS and HCV protection.

Integrating HCV and HCV would also enable both to be governed by the multi-stakeholder HCV Resource Network, www.hcvnetwork.org, to formalise definitions and decision rules, standardise methodologies, license assessors and ensure transparent reporting. This would require investment to expand the Resource Network’s capacity to govern both tools, but such investments would be less costly than establishing a separate governance structure for HCS.

To assure all stakeholders that improved HCV, strengthened byHCS, will function more effectively, the RSPO could increase transparency by encouraging disclosure of both HCS and HCVmaps as part of the RSPO’s New Plantings Procedure (NPP) announcement. Combined with online platforms to monitor deforestation, this would enable drawing attention to questionable practices with shorter time lags.

Arguably, the challenge ahead for integrating HCS and HCV is more political than technical, as different stakeholders groups promote the two concepts. HCS developed as part of campaigns for zero deforestation supply chains as an alternative to certification, whereas HCV is linked directly to certification. This means uniting HCS and HCV into a single, comprehensive tool requires putting aside differences on certification versus supply chain approaches, and working together toward the shared goal of mainstreaming robust, transparent, credible assessment tools demanded by the market.

Integrating HCS and HCV will be challenging, but it is necessary to minimise duplication, avoid confusion and capitalise on growing momentum to achieve reform.

Gary Paoli

Gary Paoli is director of research and project development at Daemeter Consulting, an independent consulting firm promoting sustainable development through responsible and equitable management of natural resources. Daemeter is one of the Support Organisations involved in the HCS Approach Steering Group