The High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) distinguishes High Carbon Stock forest and High Conservation Value areas for protection from degraded lands with low carbon and biodiversity values that may be developed, whilst ensuring that the rights and livelihoods of communities and workers are respected. The HCSA methodology can be used for integrated land use planning in any country and commodity grown in tropical moist forest landscapes. 

More details about the scope of applicability can be found in the document ‘High Carbon Stock Approach: Scope of Applicability for RSPO Certification’ (note that this document is also applicable for other sectors).  Please refer to this document for more information on how the HCS Approach Toolkit can be used and when it requires formal trialling to support potential Toolkit adaptations in different countries, biomes, production setups, and forest types.

HCSA Trials

A key component of the HCSA is its innovative and adaptive nature. The Approach’s development, refinement and innovations are commonly tested and adapted or completed through trials and tests. The HCSA Trialling Protocol outlines the set of rules for governing the trialling of the HCS Approach including scoping visits, field tests, adaptation trials and any other testing methods to encourage collaboration between the HCSA Secretariat, HCSA Steering Group (SG) members and other relevant partners in the development and testing of the HCSA. It also sets the conditions for evaluating and reporting on the trial outcomes and making claims regarding the trial.

Any stakeholders interested in running an HCSA trial are encouraged to contact the HCSA Quality Assurance team at qa@highcarbonstock.org.

Current scope of application and trials

The table below identifies where the HCS Approach is currently being applied, trialled and being prepared for trials by region, commodity, scale and biome.

  HCS Approach being applied HCS Approach being trialled HCS Approach trials in preparation
Region South East Asia
(Malaysia, Indonesia)

West Africa
(Liberia, Ghana, Sierra Leone & Nigeria)

Central Africa
(Cameroon, Gabon)

(Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands)

Central America
Central Africa

West Africa

Southeastern Africa

Central America

South America

Commodities Oil palm



Oil palm


Scale Concessions

Scheme smallholders

Independent smallholders



Biomes Tropical moist forest biomes Tropical moist forest biomes
Ongoing and completed HCSA trials
1. Peat Aware Village and HCV-HCS pilot: Sg Linau, Riau Proforest Sg Linau, Riau, Indonesia Completed
2. Achieving no-deforestation palm oil in a smallholder landscape in Chiapas, Mexico Earthworm Foundation Chiapas, Mexico Ongoing
3. Developing a landscape-level HCS and HCV approach in a smallholder context in the San Martin, Ucayali, Huanuco regions in Peru Earthworm Foundation & National Wildlife Federation San Martin, Ucayali, and Huanuco regions, Peru Ongoing
4. Achieving No-deforestation cocoa: piloting HCS and HCV methodologies in Enchi, Ghana Earthworm Foundation Enchi, Western Region, Ghana Completed
5. HCV-HCSA for Mexico Earthworm Foundation & Proforest Chiapas, Tabasco, Veracruz, and Campeche States, Mexico Ongoing
6. Climate Resilient Cocoa Landscapes in Madagascar Earthworm Foundation Sambirano Basin, Madagascar Ongoing
7. Simplified HCS-HCV Approach for Independent Smallholder in IndonesiaOil Palm Smallholders Union (SPKS)West Kalimantan, IndonesiaOngoing
Interim Report
8.Application of HCSA Social Requirement (SR13) in an existing oil palm operationForest Peoples Programme & Musim Mas Central Kalimantan, IndonesiaOngoing