HCV (High Conservation Value) is defined as the complete process of identifying conservation value areas and developing management and monitoring plans to ensure that the values identified are maintained or enhanced (Stewart et al, 2008). There are six attributes of HCVs:
- HCV 1 — Areas containing globally, regionally or nationally significant concentrations of biodiversity values (e.g. endemism, endangered species, refugia).
- HCV 2 — Globally, regionally or nationally significant large landscape-level areas where viable populations of most if not all naturally occurring species exist in natural patterns of distribution and abundance.
- HCV 3 — Areas that are in or contain rare, threatened or endangered ecosystems.
- HCV 4 — Areas that provide basic ecosystem services in critical situations (e.g. watershed protection, erosion control).
- HCV 5 — Areas fundamental to meeting basic needs of local communities (e.g. subsistence, health).
- HCV 6 — Areas critical to local communities’ traditional cultural identity (areas of cultural, ecological, economic or religious significance identified in cooperation with such local communities).
It is important to know that Criterion 7.3 which emphasis that any new plantings since November 2005 have not replaced primary forest or any area required to maintain or enhance one or more High Conservation Values. Therefore, any plantings after November 2005 must have HCV assessment and land use change analysis.
For smallholder certification, there is a simple approach to do the HCV assessment. RSPO has developed specific procedures for identification, management, and monitoring of potentially affected HCVs. The assessment is done through dialogues by group managers with group members.
Based on the HCV assessment, if there is any status of rare, threatened, or endangered (RTE) and other HCV habitats existing in the plantation or could be affected by plantation, then there should be a management plan to maintain and enhance the habitats. (RSPO P&C 2013: Criteria 5.2)