High conservation values

From endemic species to sacred sites, all natural habitats – especially forests – inherit conservation values. Those biological, ecological, social or cultural values of outstanding significance are known as 'high conservation values,' or HCVs.

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Aleksandr Pekach

The HCV approach

We use the HCV approach – identifying, managing and monitoring – in our certification standards (which influence FSC-certified forests or products) and more generally as a resource for conservation planning. FSC seeks to maintain, enhance and promote the importance of these values.

Paying attention to HCVs does not mean that you have to turn everything into a conservation area though. For example, some global retailers and banks have integrated HCV requirements into their procurement and investment policies.

A key part of HCVs is ensuring activity in forests does not have a negative impact on biodiversity – that is, the diversity within and between species, and the ecosystem as a whole, including forests. For FSC, maintaining and implementing management of biodiversity and HCVs goes hand in hand.

HCVs are applicable to any operation, big or small. As a small or community producer, you can ensure that your current activities are not affecting the overall biodiversity of your area, and find out how HCVs apply to you.

The guidance documents below provide a good starting point to implement the HCV approach in your own operations.


FSC and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fau­na and Flora (CITES) have different, but overlapping, missions. FSC focuses on sustainable forest management in a broad sense, including environmental, social and economic sustainability. CITES aims to limit and regulate international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants, so that such trade does not threaten the survival of the species concerned. An overlap clearly exists with the common goal of preventing the extinction of species living in forest-related ecosystems.

Download the full paper below to learn about how FSC effectively assists CITES in achieving its objectives.


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