Bulletin Issue 114 - January 2007
High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF), is a conceptual tool originally aimed at zoning forested landscapes in order to optimise forest management. Born out of a voluntary certification scheme (FSC), it is now being pushed forward by corporations, governments and big conservation NGOs. Given that this tool raises a number of questions regarding the benefits and drawbacks of its use, this bulletin is aimed at providing information and analysis to facilitate informed participation in the debate.
HCVF APPLICATION IN PRACTICE
29 January 2007When the World Bank adopted its new Forests Policy (OP 4.36) in 2002, it stated that ‘the Bank does not finance projects that, in its opinion, would involve significant conversion or degradation of critical forest areas or related critical natural habitats’. However, in the ensuing five years, despite repeated enquiries from NGOs like the WRM, the World Bank has not been able to clarify how it determines which areas are ‘critical’. All it has said is that critical forests and critical habitats include existing and officially proposed protected areas, culturally important areas like sacred groves, ‘sites that maintain conditions vital for the viability of protected areas’ and sites identified on supplementary lists prepared by the Bank or by an authority it recognises.
29 January 2007The HCVF concept has been applied in Indonesia over the last five years in attempts to identify and protect high conservation value forests from conversion to pulp wood plantations. APP and APRIL, the two largest pulp producers in Indonesia, have both responded to market pressure orchestrated by WWF and Friends of the Earth affiliates by conducting and commissioning HCVF assessments in forest areas planned for conversion to Acacia plantations. While some forest areas identified as having HCVFs have not been cleared, both companies have continued clearing natural forests during HCVF assessments and even of areas identified as HCV’s.
29 January 2007Indonesia has some of the most biodiverse rainforests in the world, but also the highest deforestation rate. The HCVF (high conservation value forest) concept has taken hold in Indonesia as a means of reconciling economic pressures to open up forest areas with the need to reduce the rate of forest loss. Several NGOs have actively encouraged the use of the concept, integrating HCVF within their ongoing work on conservation, sustainable forestry and land use management, in collaboration with government ministries, the private sector and local communities. The urgent objective of applying the concept, as far as many are concerned, is to help pre-empt forest conversion and the loss of biodiversity and social values that accompanies it.
A TOOLKIT AND A NETWORK
29 January 2007The notion of High Conservation Value Forest was originally developed as a key principle within the revised standard of the Forest Stewardship Council issued in 1999. However guidance on how such forests should be identified was scarce and not well consolidated. In 2002, the conservation organisation WWF and the retail company IKEA, as part of a three-year cooperative programme, decided to fund a small project to develop guidance on how HCVF should be defined, identified and managed. To this end they contracted Proforest, an ‘independent company, working with natural resource management and specialising in practical approaches to sustainability’, to carry out this work.
THE NEED FOR DECISIONS
29 January 2007Whenever a new process begins, NGOs need to decide on whether to get or not involved in it. Such is now the case with the High Conservation Value (HCV) approach and with the HCV Resource Network. The editorial above highlights a number of major issues which need to be further discussed in order to make an informed decision regarding engaging –or not- in this.
29 January 2007Ever since its foundation 20 years ago, the World Rainforest Movement (WRM) has stood for bottom-up efforts to protect the world’s forests against destructive development and top-down planning. We challenge imposed ‘solutions’ to the world’s forest crisis which exclude local communities, indigenous peoples, women and the oppressed by denying them a voice and rights to forge their own destinies. We continue to insist that even well-intentioned efforts to ‘save the rainforests’ will fail if they are not rights-based and genuinely participatory. The NGOs that set up the WRM at two conferences in Malaysia in 1986 and 1987 adopted the credo ‘We are not the solution. The solutions lie with the people.’