New research supports that protecting ‘high carbon’ rainforests also protects threatened wildlife

This week, a research paper titled ‘High carbon stock forests provide co-benefits for tropical biodiversity’ was published in the Journal of Applied Ecology. The research highlights that methodologies, such as the High Carbon Stock Approach, that identify and conserve forest areas containing large amounts of carbon, are beneficial for biodiversity conservation.

The study was carried out by a team of researchers from the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) at the University of Kent, who have been undertaking wildlife surveys in the forests of Borneo, in an area undergoing conversion to oil palm. Their findings revealed that when high-resolution maps were used to map forest and carbon resources, areas of high carbon were clearly seen to support the most mammal species. This relationship was driven by species of conservation concern such as orangutan and clouded leopards, suggesting that mammals vulnerable to deforestation and forest degradation will benefit the most from carbon policies.

The results have important implications for policymakers in business, government organisations and NGOs, by confirming that mechanisms like UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) Framework and HCS approaches to designate land for protection have strong potential for biodiversity conservation in the oil palm sector.

The paper was written by the University of Kent with support from the HCS Approach Steering Group, and can be accessed here.

Further information on the study’s release is available on the University of Kent’s website here.

This article was also covered by Mongabay. You can find a link to the post here.

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 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 or the HCVRN Secretariat at

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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

Announcing the winners of the HCS Approach Blog Competition in Indonesia

In May 2017, the HCS Approach Steering Group opened up a blog competition to the Indonesian public, on the tails of the launch of the HCS Approach Toolkit Version 2.0 on the 3rd of May in Bali.

The competition ran from the 15th of May until the 16th of June, during which time participants submitted blog articles about the HCS Approach and the newly launched version of the toolkit as the unified global methodology for putting ‘No Deforestation’ into practice.

The competition was a great success, with a total of 32 submissions. The Steering Group is very pleased to announce the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners of the competition:

1st Place: – Akhmad Helmi Irfansah
Title: Lindungi Hutan Alam Dengan Metode HCS Approach Toolkit Versi 2.0
2nd place: Kopiah Putih – Abdur Rosyid
Title: HCS Approach Toolkit Versi 2.0: Penyelamat Hutan Indonesia
3rd place: – Muna Syaroh
Title: Metodologi Terbaru Penyelamatan Hutan

Winner selection was primarily based on:

  • Accuracy of information presented,
  • Adequate mention of the various links relating to the HCS Approach and Toolkit Version 2.0,
  • Creativity in aesthetics and in the angle/perspective provided on the HCS Approach Steering Group’s value, purpose, programme, and stakeholders,
  • And most importantly: the quality of content and understanding in relation to the HCS Approach, the Toolkit Version 2.0 and the launch.

The Steering Group congratulates the top three winners, and would also like to thank all participants for submitting their pieces to us and helping to spread the news on the methodology and the launch.

The full list of submissions for the blog competition can be accessed here.

More information on the HCS Approach Toolkit Version 2.0 and the launch in May can be found here.

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

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:

HSBC Revises Agricultural Commodities Policy to Include Protection of HCS Forests and Peat

On 20 February 2017, British bank HSBC announced the release of their revised Agricultural Commodities Policy. HSBC has strengthened their policy for palm oil by expanding their prohibited businesses commitment, making it consistent with ‘No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation’ (NDPE) policies, which are increasingly being adopted by leading companies in the palm oil sector. The policy has now also been extended to refiners and traders.

The revision of the policy is considered a significant step in demonstrating commitment to breaking ties to destructive palm oil companies. HSBC customers will not only need to make a public commitment to protect high carbon stock (HCS) forests and peat areas by the end of June 2017, but will also be required to produce evidence of the independent verification of these commitments by the end of December 2018. While the policy does not specify a methodology for the implementation of HCS protection commitments, reference is made to the HCS Convergence Agreement of November 2016, and the common methodology defined in the agreement.

The HCS Approach Steering Group hopes that other banks and finance institutions will follow HSBC’s lead in revising their policies in support of HCS forest protection.

The official statement on the release and the revised policy is available on the HSBC website here.

The HCS Approach in 2016: Milestones & Highlights

Last year was marked by a number of significant events for the High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach, characterised by progressive cross-collaborations between the HCS Approach Steering Group, various stakeholders, and other organisations and initiatives. Now at the start of a new year, we are pleased to present below the highlights and milestones for 2016, and thank all members, supporters and contributors for taking part in the efforts behind all of last year’s achievements. A more detailed update on the HCS Approach Steering Group’s latest activities can be found in the December issue of the HCS Approach Newsletter.

  • November 2016 celebrated a turning point for all stakeholders that have been pushing for or setting “no deforestation” commitments. Following 12 months of intensive work, the HCS Convergence Working Group announced on the 8th of November in Bangkok during the 14th Annual Roundtable Conference on Sustainable Palm Oil (RT14) that they have reached agreement on convergence between the HCSA and HCS+ methodologies. The Convergence Agreement means that moving forward, there will be one methodology for putting ‘no deforestation’ into practice. The official agreement can be accessed here.
  • In March 2016, the Steering Group announced the commencement of the first revision of the HCS Approach Methodology and Toolkit since its public release in 2015. In the months that followed, the revision process was in full swing with consultations taking place at various points to collect feedback on version one of the Toolkit, and to obtain input on the proposals for the revised or additional content in version two. Consultations have involved the participation of key stakeholders such as commodity companies, the scientific community, and practitioners implementing the HCS Approach. Most notably, the fundamental elements agreed from the HCS Convergence process will be reflected in the revised Toolkit, which is expected to be completed in early 2017.
  • Another important milestone is the agreement on collaboration between the HCV Resource Network and the HCS Approach Steering Group that took place in April 2016. Recognising the potential for significant efficiency gains for companies, communities and practitioners alike, both groups agreed on steps towards integrating the governance and quality assurance of the HCV and HCS approaches. The subsequent work in 2016 has focused on specifically mapping out how these goals and steps will be achieved, preparations for merging the quality assurance processes, and developing integrated guidance on how to conduct joint HCV-HCS assessments in a range of situations (led by the HCV Resource Network). Further information on the agreement for collaboration can be found here.
  • We are also excited to share that the HCS Approach is gaining some initial ground in Africa, through events, trainings and initiatives facilitated by external platforms such as the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) 2020, as well as through our members. A major milestone took place on 16 November when seven African Governments signed the TFA 2020 Marrakesh Declaration for the Sustainable Development of the Oil Palm Sector in Africa at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP22) in Morocco. Through the declaration, these Governments have agreed to place sustainability, human rights and collaboration with industry, indigenous peoples and civil society groups at the centre of the expanding palm oil industry in Africa. This also includes committing to adopt locally-adapted tools such as the HCV and HCS concepts. A press statement and the declaration are available here.
  • Steering Group members have attended and presented at a number of events this year, helping to disseminate information on the approach and its use. At COP22 in Marrakech, the Steering Group facilitated the session ‘Innovative Approach for Sustainable Conservation’ within the Indonesian Pavilion. Hosted by Aida Greenbury as Co-Chair of the HCS Approach Steering Group, speakers at the event represented government, NGOs and the private sector; including Dr. Hadi Daryanto, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, and Stewart Maginnis, IUCN. Further details on the session can be found here. The presentation slides can be downloaded here.
  • Through the various work streams, HCS Approach Steering Group members and supporting observer organisations have continued to drive the uptake of the approach, support the goals of the Steering Group and address any difficult or new issues that may need to be considered for the implementation and adaptability of the methodology. We have provided updates for the various work streams throughout the year in the HCS Approach Newsletter. All issues, including the December 2016 issue, can be accessed here.

Should you have any questions regarding the 2016 activities of the HCS Approach Steering Group, please do not hesitate to contact the Secretariat at:

Agreement on Unified Approach to Implementing No Deforestation Commitments

Following a year of intensive work, the HCS Convergence Working Group announced in Bangkok today that they have reached agreement on convergence between the HCSA and HCS+ approaches. The Group has agreed on a single, coherent set of principles for implementation of companies’ commitments to “no deforestation” in their palm oil operations and supply chains. The members of the Group worked together constructively to develop recommendations that provide a roadmap forward for addressing the issues that remain in a collaborative and integrated way.

The agreement outlines:

  • Fundamental elements of the converged methodology that protects HCS forests, HCV areas and peatlands, including forest stratification and decision-making in “young regenerating forest” within fragmented landscapes, the role of carbon and robust implementation of FPIC and other social requirements;
  • The intention for functional and institutional integration of HCS with the HCV Resource Network; and
  • A roadmap for resolving outstanding issues through a collaborative process.

The recommendations will be incorporated into the revised HCSA Toolkit and the members of the Group are committed to further the implementation of these recommendations and to address the important remaining issues through their engagement in the HCSA Steering Group. In addition, the agreement will be reflected in the policies and positions of the organisations endorsing this agreement and the revised HCSA toolkit will be implemented by the companies when it is issued in early 2017.

Organisations reaching agreement are:

Asian Agri
Forest Peoples Programme
Golden Agri-Resources
IOI Corporation Berhad
Musim Mas
Rainforest Action Network
Sime Darby
Union of Concerned Scientists
Wilmar International

This agreement has also been received and endorsed by Executive Committee of the HCSA. The full agreement is available for download here.

Should you have any questions about the outcomes of this agreement, please contact:

To view the full statement, please click here.