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.

HCS Approach Steering Group holds technical workshop on integrating HCS, HCV and FPIC

There is growing support from diverse land use sectors for the High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach as a practical, effective tool for breaking the link between deforestation and the production of commodities such as palm oil.

In practice, many stakeholders have raised questions about how to integrate the HCS Approach with other well established tools such as the High Conservation Value (HCV) approach, as well as procedures for ensuring Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of affected communities.

Recognising that each methodology has its own specific identity, lens and purpose, a technical workshop was held in Bogor, Indonesia on the 8-9th of May 2015 under the auspices of the HCS Approach Steering Group. The workshop convened a small group of experienced practitioners who implement these procedures, to build technical consensus around how they could be integrated procedurally in cases where all three are required in the same site.

The specific objectives of the workshop were:

  • To reach a mutual understanding of the term ‘integration’ in this case
  • To agree on the value of clear procedural guidance for integrating the processes
  • To identify the overlaps, differences and synergies of each process
  • To frame a draft procedure for integrating their principles and methodologies.

A range of participants attended the workshop from different backgrounds including, non-government organisations, private sector organisations, and technical assessors of HCV and HCS.

A set of draft guidance notes for consultation will be completed by August 2015.

A Summary Report of the HCS HCV and FPIC Integration Workshop is available.

Additional available documents and materials include: the Workshop Concept Note, Programme, Briefing Note , a Presentation on FPIC, and a series of graphical representations of the workshop.

Graphical Representation 1

Graphical Representation 2

Graphical Representation 3

Graphical Representation 4

Graphical Representation 5

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Graphical Representation 7

Graphical Representation 8

HCS Approach Steering Group launches toolkit for deforestation-free plantations

The Toolkit will enable the widespread adoption of the HCS Approach

Major plantation companies and NGOs including Golden Agri-Resources, Asia Pulp and Paper, Wilmar International Limited, Greenpeace, Agropalma, WWF, the Forest Peoples Programme, Rainforest Action Network, Unilever and TFT have today endorsed the publication of the first version of a Toolkit which will give commodity-producing companies worldwide practical guidance on how to identify tropical forests for conservation and degraded lands for potential plantation development.

The HCS Approach was developed to help companies implement their commitments to end deforestation in their supply chains. The Toolkit provides guidance for producers on how to identify High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests and integrate them with other land use planning approaches such as High Conservation Value areas, the protection of peatlands, and respect for the rights of indigenous and traditional communities to their lands.

The Toolkit has been developed by members of the HCS Approach Steering Group, a group of leading plantation companies with commitments to eliminate deforestation, NGOs and technical support organisations. Established in Singapore in 2014, the Steering Group is working to oversee the governance and standardisation of the HCS Approach to achieve a halt to deforestation.

Speaking at the launch of the toolkit, Grant Rosoman, Forest Solutions Coordinator at Greenpeace, said: “The HCS Approach breaks new ground by providing a practical way to achieve No Deforestation together with recognition of community land rights. The publication of this Toolkit should enable the widespread adoption of the HCS Approach in key tropical forest regions where oil palm and pulp and paper plantations are being developed.”

Peter Heng, Managing Director of Communications and Sustainability at Golden Agri-Resources and member of the Steering Group said: “Golden Agri-Resources pioneered the HCS approach in collaboration with The Forest Trust and Greenpeace when we announced our Forest Conservation Policy in early 2011, which focuses on No Deforestation. As a leading player in the palm oil industry, we worked with multi-stakeholders to develop the HCS Approach that is tested and acknowledged. We look forward to the support from multiple players including governments, communities, producers, consumer companies and NGOs to achieve success in HCS forest conservation.”

“It’s absolutely brilliant for me to see this toolkit in all its colour,” said Scott Poynton, CEO of TFT. “I remember our very first discussion about HCS between TFT, GAR and Greenpeace way back in November 2010. Since then, tens of thousands of trees have been measured in lands as diverse as Indonesia, Liberia and Papua New Guinea, satellite data has been pored over, ground checks have followed and forests have been set aside and we have spoken with communities, NGOs, scientists, other experts and governments. This toolkit distils the knowledge we have developed together to date and sets a great platform to expand the application and expansion of that learning to a more global audience.”

Aida Greenbury, Managing Director for Sustainability at Asia Pulp and Paper and also member of the Steering Group said: “As the industry moves towards Zero Deforestation, it is vital that we have an agreed method for defining what forest is. We hope that the development of the HCS Approach will form the foundation for forest conservation over years to come and we invite Government, industry and other stakeholders to follow.”

Marcus Colchester, Senior Policy Advisor at the Forest Peoples Programme, said that “the HCS Approach is also about people. As major players in the palm oil and pulp industries seek to implement their new commitments, this tool, properly used, holds the potential to protect forests as well as secure the land rights and livelihoods of indigenous peoples and local communities.”

Jeremy Goon, Wilmar’s Chief Sustainability Officer, said: “Removing deforestation from commodity supply chains has gained momentum in the past two years with many major resource-based companies now sharing the same commitment. Along with established conservation approaches like High Conservation Value (HCV) areas, the High Carbon Stock (HCS) framework is a cornerstone for sustainable plantation development. We now look forward to transitioning the framework from concept to field implementation through a defined Toolkit. Wilmar’s No Deforestation commitment covers its entire supply chain, including its third-party suppliers; our next step is to work with key actors in the palm oil industry, including with the relevant government authorities and our suppliers towards equitable solutions to forest preservation and socio-economic development.”

The HCS Toolkit

The Toolkit will enable experienced practitioners to undertake their own HCS assessments, integrate them with HCV and FPIC considerations and create an integrated land use plan for a plantation concession in a forested area.

It has been tested in pilot palm oil and pulp and paper concessions in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Liberia and is expected to be widely adopted by companies in other countries and products in 2015.

The toolkit includes:

Chapter 1: Background on the methodology and the HCS Approach Steering Group
Chapters 2 – 6: Practitioner guidance on how to undertake and integrate HCS assessments
Chapter 7: Conclusions and areas for further study

The HCS Approach was first developed by Golden Agri Resources, TFT and Greenpeace in 2011. Since then, it has been adopted by other major producers including Asia Pulp and Paper and Wilmar, who both announced No Deforestation policies in 2013.

The approach has attracted support from global consumer companies, including Unilever, Neste Oil, Ferrero, Mars and Nestlé, as part of a suite of actions to deliver on their commitments to prevent further deforestation in the supply chain.

In conjunction with the publication of the toolkit, the HCS Approach Steering Group is opening a consultation period on the methodology through participation in the HCS Consultative Forum. The Forum will be open to parties with an interest in the approach including plantation companies, manufacturers, retailers, financial institutions as well as industry bodies, academia and civil society groups.

Feedback can be provided via the Consultative Forum of the HCS Approach Steering Group. Further editions of the HCS Toolkit will include revisions based on stakeholder feedback as well as recommendations from further field trials and new scientific information.

To download the full press release, click here.

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



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.


A resource site on the HCS Approach