HCVs are biological, ecological, social or cultural values which are outstandingly significant or critically important at the national, regional or global level. All natural habitats possess inherent conservation values, including the presence of rare or endemic species, provision of ecosystem services, sacred sites, or resources harvested by local residents. There are six categories of HCVs:

OUR APPROACHThree steps to protecting HCVs

  • 1.


    The process of identifying if HCVs are present, potentially present or absent in an area where development will take place is led by a Licensed Assessor in collaboration with local stakeholders.

    An HCV assessment is a field study led by a Licensed Assessor and his/her team. It involves the collection of field data, stakeholder consultations and analysis of existing information. The outcome is a report that informs the company responsible for land development on the presence, potential presence or absence of HCVs, as well as recommendations for their adequate long-term protection. HCV assessments are required by several agricultural commodity certification schemes, by financial institutions as part of their investment due diligence processes, and by initiatives such as The Consumer Goods Forum, which represents over 400 of the world’s largest consumer goods companies.

    To support the implementation of corporate no-deforestation commitments, the HCV Network Secretariat, in collaboration with the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) developed the HCV-HCSA Assessment Manual. The manual guides Licensed HCV Assessors in identifying HCVs and HCS forests via one integrated field study. From November 2017, HCSA Members are required to comission HCV-HCSA assessments, which must be submitted to the Network’s HCV Assessor Licensing Scheme for evaluation.

  • 2.


    Identified HCVs must be managed by the land developer in collaboration with local stakeholders. Management involves identifying threats to HCVs and developing plans to address them. Actions will depend on the local context and may range from total protection to moderate use of certain areas. Examples of management activities include anti-poaching measures and fire management policies.

    High Conservation Values can range in size from single trees to entire landscapes. However, maintaining and enhancing HCVs often requires a management area that exceeds the area of the actual HCV. Thus it is necessary to distinguish between the locations of HCVs, which may be quite small – and sometimes confidential – and the management areas where appropriate decisions and actions are needed.

  • 3.


    The purpose of monitoring is to detect changes in HCVs and HCV areas. By setting indicators to assess the status of HCVs and HCV areas, the party responsible for monitoring can assess if management practices are effective. Monitoring indicators are context-specific and vary from site to site. Monitoring is crucial to ensure long-term protection of HCVs.




  • For non-HCSA members is it possible to commission HCV-only assessments? Yes, HCV-only assessments will continue. The HCV Assessor Licensing Scheme (ALS) will also continue to offer evaluations for HCV-only assessments.
  • Who can I hire to carry out an HCV-HCSA assessment? Please click here or on the ‘Find an Assessor’ button located at the top of this page.
  • Where can I find more information about HCV-HCSA assessments? Please consult the HCV-HCSA Assessment Manual or contact


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