Biodiversity & HCV Working Group

What are High Conservation Values (HCV)?

HCVs are biological, ecological, social or cultural values which are considered 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. 

An HCV is a biological, ecological, social or cultural value of outstanding significance or critical importance. There are six categories of HCVs.

Definition of HCV areas

  • HCV1: Concentrations of biological diversity including endemic species, and rare, threatened or endangered species, that are significant at global, regional or national levels.
  • HCV2: Intact forest landscapes and large landscape-level ecosystems and ecosystem mosaics that are significant at global, regional or national levels, and that contain viable populations of the great majority of the naturally occurring species in natural patterns of distribution and abundance.
  • HCV3: Rare, threatened, or endangered ecosystems, habitats or refugia.
  • HCV4: Basic ecosystem services in critical situations, including protection of water catchments and control of erosion of vulnerable soils and slopes. 
  • HCV5: Sites and resources fundamental for satisfying the basic necessities of local communities or indigenous peoples (for livelihoods, health, nutrition, water, etc...), identified through engagement with these communities or indigenous peoples.
  • HCV6: Sites, resources, habitats and landscapes of global or national cultural, archaeological or historical significance, and/or of critical cultural, ecological, economic or religious/sacred importance for the traditional cultures of local communities or indigenous peoples, identified through engagement with these local communities or indigenous peoples.

HCV process

The RSPO is committed to the conservation of primary forests and high conservation values (HCV) within the context of sustainably managed landscape through RSPO Principles & Criteria 5.2 and 7.3.

The RSPO New Planting Procedure (NPP) which was formalized in May 2009, approved by the RSPO Board of Governors in September 2009 for implementation from 1st January 2010, further elaborates on the requirements for criterion 7.3. The first step is to conduct a comprehensive and participatory independent social and environmental impact assessment(s) and the assessment(s) must include identification of all primary forest, HCVA, areas of peat soil, and local peoples’ land.

Identify which High Conservation Values are present

The presence or absence of each HVC is determined, by using existing data and collecting additional information as necessary.


Identify the HCV area and how it must be managed

The HCV area is the area of habitat which must be appropriately managed in order to maintain enhance the identified HCVs.


Establish an appropriate monitoring regime

To ensure that the management practices are effective in their aim of maintaining or enhancing the HCVs.

members of biodiversity and high conservation values working group

Dato' Henry Barlow
Independent (Malaysia)
Michael Brady
Programme Manager, Biodiversity Markets, IFC (Funding Agency)
Dr. Gan Lian Tiong
Sustainability Manager,PT Musim Mas (PO Industry in Sumatra, Indonesia)
Simon Siburat
Group Sustainability Controller,Wilmar Group
Olivier Tichit
PT Tolan Tiga (PO Industry in Sumatra, Indonesia)
Dwi R. Muhtaman
Re.Mark Asia
Agus Purnomo
Managing Director, Sustainability and Strategic Stakeholder Engagement Golden Agri-Resources Ltd
Marcus Colchester
Forest Peoples Programme (FPP)
Elizabeth Clarke
Zoological Society of London (ZSL)
Datuk Dr Junaidi (John) Payne
Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA)
Melissa Yeoh
Manager, Sustainable Palm Oil Programme, WWF - Malaysia
Lanash Thanda
President, Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA)
Harjinder Kler
Anne Rosenbarger
Norazam Abdul Hameed
Head, Plantation Sustainability and Quality Management (PSQM), Felda Global Ventures
Tang Men Kon
Head, Plantation Sustainability & Quality Management, Sime Darby Plantation, Malaysia
Adam Harrison
WWF International
Sophie Persey
Group Sustainability Manager
Audrey Lee
Darmawan Liswanto
Fauna & Flora International (FFI)
Indonesia Programme Director
Anders Lindhe
HCV Resource Network