The High Conservation Values (HCV) approach is a cutting-edge, internationally-recognized methodology for determining what values are present on a given landbase at the landscape level, and how to measure, monitor, and manage those values, whether actively or through the establishment of conservation areas. The HCV concept was developed by the FSC® as part of its Forest Management Certification standards, to provide a technical framework for the management and enhancement of the values that are found to exist, based on scientific evidence and stakeholder input. HCV Assessment is a great example of how Best Practices from one sector (Forestry) can be adapted for use in others; sustainability standards for agricultural production systems (especially soy and palm oil) now require an HCV Assessment, and this tool is also used beyond certification audit processes, as an excellent diagnostic tool. This is the case of the Mining, Oil & Gas, and Energy Infrastructure sectors, amongst others.
RFS’ Principals have long-standing expertise in HCV assessment. While with FSC-Canada, Marcelo Levy was responsible for the development of guidance on this tool that was incorporated into FSC-Canada’s Boreal Standard; RFS has since audited the use of HCV Assessment on numerous FSC® audits around the world. As the concept transcended the FSC® and the forest sector, the High Conservation Values Resource Network was created, and Marcelo Levy was an initial member of the HCV RN Technical Panel, conducting peer reviews of HCV assessments for palm oil and soy projects. More recently, both RFS Principals were amongst the first cohort of experts taking the Lead Assessors Course for HCV Assessment to qualify under the new Assessor Licensing Scheme managed by the global HCV Resource Network. RFS currently undertakes peer review work for both Forestry and non-Forestry projects, notably for HCV Assessments conducted under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standards.