About the Quality Review Process

The HCSA Steering Group does not require third-party certification in order to verify that HCS assessments were carried out according to the methodology explained in the HCS Approach Toolkit. Instead, companies must use trained practitioners to conduct their HCS assessments and submit each assessment to a small Peer Review Panel. The Peer Review Panel’s feedback will then be published alongside a summary of the assessment, and stakeholders can then enter into a dialogue with the company about the results.

Below is a brief overview of the steps in the Quality Review Process:

  1. The concession-holder selects a Registered Practitioner Organisation to lead the HCS assessment, and together they select the team. The team leader must be a registered practitioner from a Registered Practitioner Organisation (see below), and at least one other team member must also be a registered practitioner. The team must have expertise in image analysis, forest inventory, conservation, and social issues/community engagement.
  2. The concession-holder contacts QA@highcarbonstock.org to lodge basic information about the HCS assessment with the Secretariat for publication on the Secretariat website.
  3. The HCS assessment is carried out.
  4. The concession-holder fills out the Summary Report template and submits the assessment to the HCS Approach Secretariat to organise a Peer Review. The concession-holder pays the Secretariat the quality review fee, but does not hire the reviewers directly.
  5. The Secretariat selects the Peer Review Panel, a group of 2-3 people with expertise in image analysis, forestry and social issues/community rights. The company may request different panel members if it perceives a conflict of interest.
  6. The Peer Review Panel sends its findings to the company, which can submit new information or correct mistakes for further review by the Peer Review Panel.

Further information on the process and on submitting an assessment for peer review can be found in the HCSA Quality Review Process Overview document here.

Criteria for Registered Practitioners and Practitioner Organisations

Registered Practitioner Organisations are the plantation companies or practitioner organisations who have sent at least two practitioner staff to a HCSA Practitioner Training and who have paid a registration fee to the HCS Approach Secretariat. Only Registered HCS Approach Practitioners working within a Registered Practitioner Organisation can lead HCS assessments, but the assessment team may include individuals from non-registered organisations.

A list of current Registered Practitioners and Practitioner Organisations is available here.

HCS Approach Practitioner Training

The HCS Approach Practitioner Training is organised by the HCS Approach Steering Group and is intended to guide practitioners through the implementation of the HCS Approach assessment process and Toolkit. The three-day technical training should be attended by those who are leading HCS assessments and overseeing the image and forest patch analysis. These individuals could be internal staff from plantation companies or technical consultants that are currently conducting HCS assessments, or plan on offering this as a service in the future[1].

The list of topics covered in the training include:

  • Overview and purpose of HCS Approach, including how it relates to and integrates with HCV, FPIC, and peatland protection
  • Overview of remote sensing analysis and joint exercises to classify images
  • Overview of forestry inventory, including guidance on how to set up plot, measure trees, allometry
  • Putting remote sensing & forest field plot information together to differentiate HCS forest from degraded land (vegetation classification)
  • Science behind forest patch conservation
  • HCS Patch Analysis Decision Tree
  • Considerations in making the final land use and conservation plan, including integration with community maps/FPIC results, peatlands, and HCV areas

To submit an expression of interest for attending a Practitioner Training, please contact the HCS Approach Secretariat at: QA@highcarbonstock.org.

[1]. Prior to leading an assessment, it is strongly encouraged for assessors to obtain experience in the field, for those that have not engaged in an HCS assessment previously. The Training provides guidance on a technical level, but is not a replacement for the required practical experience for conducting a quality HCS assessment. To assist in providing practical guidance, mentorship opportunities have been included in the practitioner registration fee, to be provided as part of the organisation’s first assessment to the HCS Approach Quality Review Process.

A resource site on the HCS Approach