Announcement: New translations of the HCS Approach Toolkit now available

As commitments to the implementation of the High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach methodology continue to grow across different regions, the HCS Approach Steering Group is seeking to accommodate the demand for the availability of the Toolkit in various languages. The Steering Group is pleased to announce that the Toolkit is now available for download in Spanish and Portuguese.

The Bahasa Indonesia Toolkit was released in 2015, and the French version of the Toolkit will be launched in the coming weeks.

To download the Toolkit in Bahasa Indonesia, Spanish, and Portuguese, please click here.

HCS Convergence Working Group commit to goals, process, and high-level work plan for 2016

On March 29, 2016, the HCS Convergence Working Group met in Singapore to commit to goals, process, and a high-level work plan for 2016. This meeting followed up on a first session in October 2015. The HCS Convergence Working Group consists of members of the High Carbon Stock Approach Executive Committee and additional companies that participated in development of the HCS+ methodology.

Members of the HCS Convergence Working Group confirmed their commitment to working together to develop a single, coherent set of rules for implementation of companies’ commitments to “no deforestation” in their palm oil operations and supply chains. The Group reviewed the results of a desk study that provided a first look at how these two methodologies compare on the ground. The Group then agreed to a process and high-level work plan with the following goals for 2016:

  • Consensus on the fundamental elements of an HCS methodology, including forest thresholds and below-ground carbon, decision-making in “young regenerating forest,” and social safeguards;
  • A pathway for institutional integration of HCS with existing systems, with appropriate governance; and
  • A roadmap for resolving outstanding issues through collaborative process and, as needed, field trials, including:

     – Approaches to estimating and managing the overall
         carbon impacts of land-use decisions;
     – Rules for applying HCS methodology in high forest regions;
     – Application of HCS methodology to small producers; and
     – Assuring protection of HCS lands and other set-asides.

The HCS Convergence Working Group agreed to meet two more times in 2016, likely in June or July and in November. Prior to the next meeting, a subset of the group will advance recommendations related to socio-economic elements of the HCS methodology. A second subset of of the group will develop analyses and options for addressing the key outstanding issues and will develop a plan for field trials. Members of the HCS Convergence Working Group also committed to participating actively in the working groups established under the HCSA Steering Group. These groups are addressing issues of common concern such as how to approach integration of HCS with systems for identifying High Conservation Value (HCV), and for assuring the Free Prior Informed Consent of local communities (FPIC), and how to incorporate into the HCS methodology high forest cover regions, smallholders, and ongoing protection of lands set aside for conservation.

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

To view the full statement, please click here.

The HCV Resource Network and the HCS Approach Steering Group agree to deepen collaboration

The Executive Committee of the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) Steering Group and representatives from the Management Committee of the High Conservation Value Resource Network (HCVRN) met in Singapore on Friday the 1st of April, 2016 to discuss next steps with regards to joint quality assurance of HCV and HCS assessments, a future joint HCV-HCS assessment manual and the potential for a shared institutional home for the HCS and HCV approaches.

Recognising the potential for significant efficiency gains for companies, communities and practitioners alike in integrating the governance and quality assurance of the HCV and HCS approaches, both groups agreed to:

a) From April 2016 to January 2017, develop common procedures to evaluate the quality of HCV and HCS assessment reports, including joint HCV-HCS reports. Procedures will be developed and implemented under the umbrella of the existing HCV Assessor Licensing Scheme and will build on the interim peer review procedure and transparency requirements developed by the HCS Approach Quality Assurance working group, which was launched in December 2015.

b) In the short-term, both parties agreed to develop integrated guidance on how to conduct joint HCV-HCS assessments in a range of situations, including with smallholders, at landscape level, and high forest cover regions, building on the work of the HCS Approach HCV-HCS-FPIC Integration working group, the HCS Approach toolkit, the Common Guidance for HCV Identification, Management and Monitoring, the HCV Assessment Manual, and the HCSA and HCS+ convergence process that is currently underway.

c) In the medium-term, both groups will work towards joint governance of the HCV and HCS approaches and encourage broader uptake of HCV-HCS guidance and quality assurance mechanisms by stakeholders such as certification schemes and companies committed to deforestation-free production and sourcing.

If you have questions about the outcomes of this meeting, please contact or

To download this statement, please click here.

Announcement: HCS Approach Methodology & Toolkit Revision

First Consultation Period 1st to 28th of March:
Please Give your Feedback

In March 2015, version 1.0 of the High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach Toolkit was launched, enabling the widespread adoption of the HCS Approach. The Toolkit provides guidance for producers on how to identify High Carbon Stock 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 HCS Approach Steering Group is now announcing the commencement of the first revision of the HCS Approach Methodology and Toolkit since its public release in 2015. The revision process will take place in the coming months, with the aim to launch version 2.0 before the end of the year.

As part of the first phase of the revision process, key stakeholders, such as commodity companies and practitioners implementing the HCS Approach, are being consulted on their experience with the Toolkit and Methodology to date. Members of the scientific community will be engaged in the process via the HCS Approach Scientific Advisory Committee. All other stakeholders such as government representatives, NGOs, community organisations, and consumer companies are also welcome to provide feedback. Recommendations from further field trials and new scientific information will also be incorporated in the revision.

On the 30th of March 2016, the HCS Approach Steering Group will be holding an HCS Approach Methodology and Toolkit Revision Consultation Workshop in Singapore. The workshop will be an open session for critical feedback and will also include presentations on proposals for revision based on issues arising from the targeted questionnaires and feedback to date. Any interested parties and relevant stakeholders are welcome to participate in the workshop.

Should you be interested in joining the consultation workshop to provide feedback on your experience or views on the methodology, please contact:

We also invite you to provide your feedback on the methodology by filling in our questionnaire below before the 28th of March, 2016.

General Survey – HCS Approach Toolkit & Methodology Review

The HCS Approach Toolkit Version 1.0 is available here.

Photos: courtesy of TFT and Golden Agri-Resources

Announcing the release of the HCS Approach Quality Review Process and Registered Practitioners

In November 2015, the HCS Approach Steering Group launched a Quality Review Process, which will be followed for all HCS assessments completed by members of the Steering Group, as well as any non-member who requests review. The review process does not require third-party certification, however, companies must engage trained practitioners to conduct the HCS assessment and submit the assessment to a small Peer Review panel. The Peer Review panel’s feedback will then be published alongside a summary of the assessment and any additional company comments, so that stakeholders can enter into a dialogue with companies about the results.

The procedure will be valid through November 30, 2016. The HCS Approach Quality Assurance Working Group is considering changes to the process after this first year.

A list of trained registered practitioners is also now available following two HCS Approach practitioner trainings that were held earlier this year. The first training was held in Bahasa Indonesia in Bogor, Indonesia in August, 2015. The second training was held in English in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in September, 2015. More trainings will be scheduled for the upcoming months across different regions. Practitioners interested in attending HCS Approach trainings should contact for further information.

Registration is tied to the organisation and the registered individual practitioner. Under the HCS Approach Quality Review Process, only Registered Organisations can lead HCS assessments, and the HCS team must include at least two Registered Practitioners. The HCS Approach Steering Group encourages companies committed to implementing the HCS Approach to contact these Registered Organisations to lead HCS assessments.

The HCS Approach Quality Review Process document is now available, and outlines the details and steps of the Quality Review Process.

For additional information on the process, HCS Approach Trainings, and for the list of Registered Organisations and Practitioners, please visit the HCS Approach Quality Review Process page on the HCS Approach website.

Call for interest: HCS Approach Practitioner Training 2016

In August and September of 2015, the HCS Approach Steering Group organised two technical training sessions for HCS Approach practitioners in Malaysia and in Indonesia. These trainings are a critical part of the HCS Approach Quality Review process, and assessors are required to attend at least one training in order to be registered as an approved HCS Approach practitioner. We are now looking to schedule further sessions for 2016 to ensure that assessors have access to appropriate guidance and an in-depth understanding of how to implement the HCS Approach Toolkit.

We wish to ensure that training sessions are organised according to demand and interest, please send us a non-binding expression of interest to by 15 December, 2015 if you or representatives from your organisation would consider attending trainings organised by the HCS Approach Steering Group.

Meeting held on convergence of the HCS Approach and HCS Science Study

On 6 October, 2015, the leaders of the HCS Approach and the HCS Science Study, and representatives of Unilever, Wilmar, Musim Mas, GAR, Sime Darby, Cargill, Greenpeace, TFT, Union of Concerned Scientists, Forest Peoples Programme, and WWF met in Singapore. The goal was to work together towards agreement on a single clear set of rules for implementation of companies’ commitments to ‘No Deforestation’.

It was established during the meeting that the HCS Approach and the emerging conclusions of the HCS Science Study are convergent in many respects, although with some noted significant differences that need to be further explored.

The group has agreed to run parallel and joint implementation trials of different components of the HCS Approach and the HCS Study proposals in diverse landscapes to see how they compare in conservation and development outcomes and in practicalities of implementation, and to explore the challenges, risks and benefits of applying the carbon neutral approach. These trials are intended to inform further discussions about the possibilities for further convergence or complementarity.

The conversation last week was an important start to the work that will take place in the coming months. The organisations around the table share a commitment to finding a path to a single set of rules for companies that have committed to no deforestation. The group will meet again before the RSPO Roundtable meeting in November to continue these discussions.

A Statement Release is available containing further details on the outcomes and discussions of the meeting.

Sawit Watch, Greenpeace and the HCS Approach Steering Group hold national workshop on community-based forest conservation

A national workshop with the theme “Konservasi Hutan Berbasis Masyarakat di Areal Konsesi: Identifikasi Solusi Permasalahan Sosial dan Pembelajaran” (or “Community-Based Forest Conservation in Concession Areas: Identifying Solutions to Social Issues and the Lessons Learned”) took place on the 2nd of July, 2015 in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. The workshop was held as a collaboration by Sawit Watch and Greenpeace, with the support of the HCS Approach Steering Group.

The idea for the workshop emerged from various discussions held between Sawit Watch and Greenpeace after the RSPO RT12 in Malaysia.

The workshop’s general objective was to understand how community’s patterns or ways of protecting their forest could be implemented by other stakeholders (companies) in their efforts to conserve or protect certain areas in company concessions.

Participants included representatives from social and environmental non-governmental organisations, plantation labour unions, government, private sector, academics, and consultants.

A Report on the national workshop is available.

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

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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.

A resource site on the HCS Approach