HCSA Assessment FAQs

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Common questions related to stand-alone HCSA assessments

You do not have to be a member of the HCSA to submit your assessment for review.

Note: an HCSA or HCV-HCSA assessment will only be considered a valid assessment if the HCSA Quality Assurance or High Conservation Value Network Assessor License Scheme system requirements are complied with from registration, assessment submission, independent review and assessments published on the HCSA website. 

A cost of an assessment varies on the size and location of the operation.  It is recommended to seek a quote from HCSA Registered Organisations or Registered Assessors unaffiliated with an organisation.

Please refer to the HCSA Communication and Claims Guide for guidance on any claims associated with the quality assurance process of registering, conducting and having an independent view of an HCSA assessment. Note this guidance is also applied to claims linked to HCV-HCSA assessments.

You may still use the HCSA Quality Review Process, although this will be noted in the Peer Review Report.

Forest classifications are based on definitions of forest types that are mapped from remote sensing images. Physical characteristics such as age distribution, density/stocking of trees per hectare, and height/size distribution of the trees are to be taken into account. The carbon stock levels will then be calculated from measurements. Carbon stock guidelines are used to check the classifications of the forests based on the observed measurements from the plots. For more information see Module 4 of the Toolkit.

No, the HCS Approach uses field data on levels of biomass, vegetation structure, and composition, together with a view from above (satellite/LiDAR) to create HCS classification. Carbon mass is only one of the factors involved in the development of the final stratification. For more information see Module 4 of the Toolkit.

II. Common questions related to Peer Review of HCSA assessments

The actual review time for each assessment submitted can vary from 1-3 months, as each review will depend on the availability of the appointed peer reviews. The review period starts from the submission date of the completed assessment to the Secretariat and is finalised once the Summary Report and accompanying documents have been published on the HCSA website.

Effective 1st January 2024, the newly revised peer review fees are USD 4,200 for HCSA members and USD 5,300 for non-members.

Please note that additional costs will apply for non-standard assessments. The final costs for the HCS assessments peer review will be agreed upon between the Company and the Secretariat before the commencement of the Quality Review Process.

The reviewee will need to communicate with their assessors to prepare all relevant information needed to be uploaded into the SharePoint folder that will be assigned for the review. In addition, the company will also need to liaise with the HCS Approach Secretariat for any correspondence about the review.

The selection is made to ensure a fair and independent review. The panel is selected from a roster of experts identified by the HCSA Secretariat. The selection is made based on the type of expertise and geographical/regional experience. The various parts for review are coordinated/assigned by the Secretariat.

The reviewee is asked to check the shortlist of selected candidates before the commencement of the review and may request different panel members if they perceive a conflict of interest. For information on the requirements of the Peer Review Panel, please see Appendix I of the HCSA Quality Assurance System document.

All qualified peer review individuals are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement via the Secretariat before they are appointed an official peer review panellist.

This non-disclosure agreement is applicable for HCSA assessments and associated documents/information for review. However, please do note that the information provided in the Summary Report will be made public.

The final results will be shared on the HCSA website and will include: the Summary Report (excluding supplemental information), the Peer Review Report, and the company’s public response to peer review (if provided). Please review Appendix II of the Quality Assurance System document. For a more detailed guide on documents/information to be published.

For each assessment submitted, the reviewee has the opportunity to make changes and re-submit the report to the Peer Review Panel before their findings are published. One round of revisions is included in the peer review fee; any further rounds might require additional fees to pay for reviewing time. If the reviewee is still not in agreement with the findings of the Peer Review Panel, they may also add a public response to the published peer review findings.

The registration fee paid by Registered HCS Approach Practitioner Organisations during their training will be deducted from the total fee of their first submitted HCS assessment, and the mentorship opportunities can be collected during the review. It is thus recommended to use the review process before the final assessment is complete, to gain feedback/guidance while conducting the assessment.
No official ‘approval’ will be provided as this is not certification. As the Peer Review report and recommendations are made transparent, this allows buyers and other stakeholders to outreach to the company and ensure any outstanding issues in the report have been addressed and be assured the Toolkit requirements have been met.