HCVs are biological, ecological, social or cultural values of outstanding significance at the national, regional or global level or of critical importance at the local 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.


    HCV identification can be conducted at a plantation, farm or management unit level through an HCV assessment. Understanding the likelihood that HCVs are present in a larger landscape can be conducted through an HCV Screening exercise. Where HCVs are most at risk, the Assessor Licensing Scheme provides independent quality assurance. However, we also provide simplified methods for HCV identification for smallholders and in lower risk contexts. Read more about HCV Identification.

    An HCV assessment is a field study led by an assessor and his/her team. It involves the collection of field data, stakeholder consultations and desk-based analysis of existing information. The outcome is a report that informs the company responsible for land development of the presence, potential presence or absence of HCVs, as well as recommendations for their 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, in collaboration with the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) developed the HCV-HCSA Assessment Manual. The manual guides Licensed Assessors in identifying HCVs and HCS forests via one integrated assessment process. From November 2017, HCSA Members are required to commission HCV-HCSA assessments, which must be submitted to the Network’s 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 and co-management with communities. Examples of management activities include anti-poaching measures, fire management policies and community livelihoods support. Read more about HCV management and monitoring.

    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.


    Monitoring is crucial to ensure long-term protection of HCVs. 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. Read more about HCV management and monitoring.





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