What if I am not a HCS Approach Steering Group member? Can I still submit HCS assessments for review?
You do not have to be a member of the HCS Approach Steering Group to submit your assessment for review.

What if I did not use a Registered Practitioner Organisation to lead my HCS assessment?
You may still use the HCSA Quality Review Process, although this will be noted in the Peer Review Report. The Steering Group has allowed this to be able to review HCS assessments which occurred before the Quality Review Process was developed.

How long will the peer review take?
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.

What is the cost to submit an assessment for peer review?
The base cost for each standard HCS assessment submitted for peer review is USD 3,000. For companies listed as Registered Practitioner Organisations, the cost will be USD 2,250 for first time submissions and USD 3,000 for each assessment submitted thereafter.

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 prior to the commencement of the Quality Review Process.

What type of capacity will I need to dedicate to the review?
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 with regards to the review.

How are the peer reviewers chosen? What if there is a conflict of interest with the selected peer reviewers?
The selection is made to ensure a fair and independent review. The panel is selected from a roster of experts identified by the Steering Group. The selection is made based on type of expertise and geographical/regional experience. The various parts for review is coordinated/assigned by the Secretariat and the QAWG. The reviewee is asked to check the short-list of selected candidates prior to 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 Quality Review Process document available here.

How is confidentiality/ non-disclosure ensured?
All reviewers in the roster are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement via the Secretariat prior to their acceptance as an official peer review panellist. This non-disclosure agreement is applicable for all assessments and associated documents/information for which they are engaged to review. However, please do note that much of the information provided in the Summary Report will be made public.

How will the final results be shared? Which data/documents 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 Review Process document (available here) for a more detailed guide on documents/information to be published.

What if I do not agree with the results of the Peer Review Panel?
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.

What if my company is a Registered Practitioner Organisation? How can I claim the mentorship opportunities that was included in the registration fee for the HCSA Practitioner Training?
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, in order to gain feedback/guidance while conducting the assessment.

Once the review is complete, is my assessment considered ‘approved’ by the HCS Approach Steering Group?
No official ‘approval’ will be provided as this is not certification.

How are HCS forests classified?

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.

Is there an ‘absolute carbon threshold’ for HCS forests?

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 1 of the Toolkit.