About the Quality Assurance Process

Below provides an overview on the Quality Assurance Process for Integrated HCV-HCSA Assessments as well as stand-alone HCSA assessments.

Integrated HCV and HCSA Assessments

Please refer to the guidance below to understand which channel of quality assurance applies to your case, depending on when you started to conduct or have conducted the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) assessment. In 2016, both HCSA and High Conservation Value Network (HCVN) Assessor Licensing Scheme (ALS) agreed to collaborate because there was a recognition that there were overlaps between HCV and HCSA assessments. Part of the agreement was that HCVN ALS would take on the quality assurance of the Integrated HCV-HCSA Assessments. An integrated manual was developed and published in November 2017, which serves as a key cut-off date for understanding the quality assurance process for the Integrated HCV-HCSA Assessments. Moving forward, the HCSA peer review will eventually be phased out as all new assessments will be Integrated HCV-HCSA Assessments. Both HCSA and HCVN ALS are collaborating to align on the assessor guidance and requirements to smooth the transition to integrated assessments and quality assurance and capture lessons learnt for improvement of the overall system. HCVN has published several documents for the guidance of companies and ALS assessors here.

Currently, the HCSA Secretariat is conducting peer reviews of HCS assessments with HCV reports completed before November 2017; while after November 2017, companies are required to conduct/commission Integrated HCV-HCSA Assessments which are evaluated by the HCVN ALS. For HCV assessments which started before November 2017, but which have not yet been submitted to ALS, companies are encouraged to hire assessors who can integrate the HCSA and HCV findings into the integrated template and submit to ALS, as there are efficiencies to be gained in terms of reporting effort and evaluation fees. If this is not possible, two stand-alone HCV and HCSA assessments can be reviewed by ALS and HCSA Secretariat, respectively.

Prior to beginning the HCSA peer review process, the Secretariat checks with the companies on their submission of HCV report. For HCV reports submitted to HCVN ALS, the HCV report must achieve a Satisfactory result with HCVN ALS before the HCSA Secretariat can proceed with the HCSA peer review. If the result of the HCV report is deemed Unsatisfactory by HCVN ALS, the Secretariat cannot start the peer review process and the assessor needs to rework the HCV report until it achieves a Satisfactory rating [1]. The table below shows the comparison between HCSA peer review and the HCVN ALS quality assurance process:

HCSA Peer Review HCVN ALS evaluation
Result of the Assessment Recommendations given, but not a pass/fail system. Pass/fail system. Assessor has three attempts to achieve a Satisfactory score.
Report Submission Company submits report. Assessor submits report.
Registration Company registers the study with the HCSA Secretariat while the study is ongoing. Assessors are encouraged to inform the ALS that an assessment is underway and the tentative date for report submission. This will enable the ALS to coordinate evaluators for the report.

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The HCSA Peer Review Process

The HCSA Peer Review Process starts with the registration and submission of the company’s HCSA report and other supporting documents to the HCSA Secretariat for processing. The cost for standard submission of HCSA peer review is USD 3,000 for all standard assessments, which includes payable fees to the Peer Reviewers and the Secretariat administration fees. The payment needs to be made before the peer review process can begin[2]. As soon as the payment is complete, the HCSA Secretariat will inform the company and start the peer review process. Please refer to the Quality Review Process document here for more information.

During the peer review period, the Peer Reviewers will gain access to a SharePoint folder where all completed documents will be made available. The peer review process includes: First Round of Peer Review, Company Review, Final Peer Review, Public Response, and finally for the HCSA Secretariat to publish the completed reports onto the HCSA website. The steps are outlined below; each stage of the review takes approximately two weeks’ time for the review process to complete.

  • During the First Round of Peer Review, the Peer Reviewers evaluate the HCSA assessment report and other documents and complete the Peer Review Report with their findings and recommendations.
  • During the Company Review, the Company must respond to address the Peer Reviewers’ findings and recommendations and update the HCSA assessment report as relevant.
  • At the Final Peer Review stage, the Peer Reviewers finalise their findings and recommendations in a final Peer Review Report based on the Company responses and updated HCSA report. The HCSA Assessment Report and Peer Review Report are published on the HCSA website.
  • Lastly, the Company has the option to make an additional statement in response to the Peer Review. They may add a Public Response to the published Peer Review Report, either as an accompanying letter or inline comments embedded within the Peer Review Report, which will be published onto the HCSA website.

It is important to note that the Peer Reviewers do not formally approve the HCSA assessment. Instead, the process provides an independent review of the assessment’s quality and alignment with the HCSA Toolkit, as well as suggestions recommendations for improvement, before the HCSA assessment report is published. If the Peer Reviewers find major problems, these can be corrected prior to publication on the HCSA website.

It is the company’s responsibility to address the issues raised during the Peer Review. It is important to note where issues are found but are not addressed by the company, the HCSA assessment report is still published, as is the Peer Review Report highlighting the issues that were found and not addressed. The Peer Review Process for HCSA assessments is intended to be transparent so that buyers and other stakeholders can ensure that companies have HCSA assessments conducted according to the Toolkit and ensure that the findings of the independent review are addressed.

For further information on the HCSA Quality Review Process, please refer to the HCSA website here or contact the HCSA secretariat at info@highcarbonstock.org.

For information on the HCVN ALS, please refer to the ALS Specification here or contact the ALS Quality Manager at qualitymanager@hcvnetwork.org.

You may find a downloadable version of this page here.

[1] If the HCV report receives an unsatisfactory rating, the company is advised to use a new HCV licensed assessor who can then lead an integrated HCV-HCS assessment.
[2] For companies requiring the Certificate of Domicile of Non-Resident for Indonesia Tax Withholding (Form DGT-1), the process of acquiring the approved form will take minimum 14 working days.