HCSA Steering Group Statement on Valid HCSA and HCV-HCSA Assessments

The HCSA has an established HCSA Quality Review Process for stand-alone HCSA assessments, in addition to quality assurance processes undertaken by the High Conservation Value Network (HCVN) ALS system for HCV-HCSA Assessments, to ensure assessments are credible and transparent. [1]

The HCSA Toolkit is open access but requires companies to register planned HCSA assessments and work with Registered HCS Approach Practitioners and HCVN ALS Licensed Assessors to undertake and submit the assessment(s) for independent review. [2] These requirements are in place to ensure quality of assessments is in accordance with the HCSA Toolkit and/or HCV-HCSA Assessment Manual. These quality assurance processes also assist in ensuring that any claims made by land managers are supported by published registrations and results of the quality review processes.

HCSA or HCV-HCSA assessment will only be recognised as a valid assessment if the HCSA Quality Assurance or HCVN ALS system requirements are complied with and assessments are published.[3]

We strongly encourage organisations that have not yet registered and/or submitted HCSA stand-alone or HCV-HCSA assessments for quality assurance to do so to obtain recognition of a valid assessment.

Also see the HCSA Communication and Claims Guide for claims that can be made when referring to the use of the HCSA Toolkit when implementing the HCS Approach or HCV-HCS Approach that adhere to the recognised quality assurance processes.

[1] The HCSA Quality Review Process is a quality assurance process to be followed by HCSA’s members of the Steering Group members’ operations from 7th December, 2015 (HCS Approach Quality Review Process) and for their supply chain and investment holdings from 20th December 2016 (HCS Approach SG Membership Document Version 2, Final).  For other users of the HCSA Toolkit the quality assurance process was expected to be followed from the launch of Toolkit Version 2.0 from 3rd May 2017 onwards or earlier if a review was requested.

After November 2017, companies are required to conduct/commission HCV-HCSA Assessments which are evaluated by the HCVN ALS.  HCV-HCSA assessments are evaluated by a Quality Panel through the HCVN’s Assessor Licensing Scheme. For more details on the two quality assurance processes see this link.

[2] HCSA assessments are registered on HCSA’s website here.  HCSA members are required to register both HCSA stand-alone and HCV-HCSA assessments with the HCSA secretariat. Non-member are required to register HCSA stand-alone assessment as part of the HCSA QA process and encouraged to register HCV-HCSA assessments with the HCSA secretariat even though the QA process will be conducted by HCVN ALS. 

[3] After the First Round of Peer Review the company can address the findings and recommendations and provide responses to them and may also update their HCSA report as a result.  Peer reviewers then finalise the findings and recommendations in a final Peer Review Report.  The company can also make an additional public response to the final report which is published on the HCSA website – see more details here. In the ALS, assessors submit reports for evaluation by the ALS Quality Panel, which gives a satisfactory or unsatisfactory outcome. If the evaluation has an unsatisfactory outcome, assessors can amend and resubmit reports for re-evaluation for a total of two times.  Peer reviewed HCSA stand-alone assessments are published here and ALS evaluated HCV-HCSA assessments are published here.  Additionally, through HCSA’s GFW Pro monitoring platform, conservation areas identified under HCSA stand-alone and HCV-HCSA assessments of HCSA Steering Group member’s operations, raw material suppliers, and investment operations will be monitored to ensure they are maintained.