What is High Conservation Value

High Conservation Value (HCV) areas are defined as natural habitats where these values are considered to be of outstanding significance or critical importance. The HCV concept was originally developed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to help define forest areas of outstanding and critical importance - High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF) - for use in forest management certification.

A High Conservation Value area is simply the area (e.g. a forest, a grassland, a watershed, or a landscape-level ecosystem) where these values are found, or, more precisely, the area that needs to be appropriately managed in order to maintain or enhance the identified values. Identifying the areas where these values occur is therefore the essential first step in developing appropriate management for them.

Definition of HCV areas

The HCV areas are defined as follows:
HCV1: areas containing globally, regionally or nationally significant concentrations of biodiversity values (e.g., endemism, endangered species)
HCV2: areas containing globally, regionally or nationally significant large landscape natural habitats, contained within, or containing, the management unit, where viable populations of most if not all naturally occurring species exist in natural patterns of distribution and abundance.
HCV3: areas that are in or contain rare, threatened or endangered ecosystems.
HCV4: areas that provide basic services of nature in critical situations (e.g., watershed protection, erosion control).
HCV5: areas fundamental to meeting basic needs of local communities (e.g., subsistence, health).
HCV6: areas critical to local communities’ traditional cultural identity (areas of cultural, ecological, economic or religious significance identified in co-operation with such local communities).

The HCV process can be summarised as follows: