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HCV assessments for RSPO certification:

Reporting Requirements
October 2012
This document is an outcome of a workshop jointly organised by RSPO and the HCV
Resource Network in 2010, to explore good practice in HCV assessment for oil palm. The
participants were RSPO-approved HCV Team Leaders (including members of the HCV
Technical Panel). A Working Group of assessors set out the following recommendations to
ensure that RSPO HCV reports are credible and robust, and to help managers to set out
Terms of Reference for contracted HCV assessors.
This document is finalized at the 18th BHCV WG meeting in September 2012 by the RSPOs
Biodiversity and HCV Working Group.
HCV reports are a very important outcome of the HCV assessment process. It is vital that
these reports include the information which is needed by the plantation organisation, in order
to make management decisions which lead to obtaining and/or retaining RSPO certification.
Reports should also include or reference all information necessary for an objective third party
(e.g. a certification body or peer reviewer) to assess whether the decisions taken are robust
and credible, and sufficient to maintain or enhance HCVs (with due consideration for the limits
of the organisations capacity to act and to affect external pressures).
The main report should be concise and readable, with key information presented in
summaries, lists, maps and tables within the main report. To ensure legibility of the report,
long lists, extensive and detailed methodologies, and other important but secondary materials
should be appended and clearly referenced.
This document describes the thirteen main elements of a credible and robust HCV report. All
HCV reports for RSPO certification should include these elements, proportionate with the
scale and potential impact of the plantation or development. It is up to the assessment team
to decide how these elements are integrated into the report, logically and legibly, and does
not constitute an obligation to follow the exact order or section headings as set out in this
Annex 1 is the standard Template which the HCV Technical Panel uses for peer reviews of
HCV assessments
. It is included for reference, as a checklist of issues which peer reviewers
should verify.

The full Peer Review document can be downloaded from the HCV Resource Network website


1. Status of the report
The report should clearly state whether this is
Pre-assessment (i.e. scoping study) or a full assessment
Draft (including version number and date) or final report
Partial assessment and HCVs covered, or complete assessment (if the assessment
does not cover all six HCVs, it is a partial assessment)
This should be on the title page and also indicated in key sections (especially maps of HCV
areas and management areas, to prevent misinterpretation/misuse of the maps see Note on
Maps below).
The report should include contact details for the HCV assessor (Team Leader), and person(s)
responsible for initiating the HCV assessment and/or implementing recommendations within
the palm oil organisation.
2. Executive summary
This should be very brief, allowing senior managers to understand results at a glance:
Summary of the scope of the report (see Section 4)
A summary table of the HCVs found, their status (e.g. confirmed presence or
absence, or potential presence i.e. more work required), and extent (Ha)
A map or maps of concession-level HCV management areas (see Section 11)
3. Introduction and public summary
It is a requirement of RSPO that a public summary of HCV assessments is made available.
We recommend that elements of the public summary are drafted as an introduction to the full
report. Due consideration should be given to confidential or commercially sensitive data,
without compromising the relevance of the public information, which should include:
Basic elements of the RSPO requirements for HCV assessment (as applied to
companies/organisations or smallholder schemes as appropriate)
Summary introduction to the six HCVs and local/national references used to define
HCVs (e.g. national HCV toolkit and version, other guidance).
Background information on the assessment context, scope, land use manager and
scale of the operations
Summary table of HCV status and extent (as per executive summary)
Brief descriptions and key maps of the HCV Areas found in the assessment area
Key maps of HCV Management Areas and an overview of the management options
identified in order to maintain or enhance HCVs.


Note on Maps:
Maps are a key outcome of the HCV assessment and it is vital that they are clearly presented
All maps should be appropriately scaled, clear and legible, and include a number, title, date,
GPS coordinates and legend. Consideration should be given to legibility online and in black
and white (e.g. potential use as photocopied versions for operational managers). In order to
prevent misinterpretation or misuse e.g. misleading claims based on outdated/draft maps, all
maps should be labelled with Draft or Version no. if appropriate.
4. Scope of the report
The scope of the report should describe:
Who has commissioned the report and purpose (e.g. RSPO certification or other)
Objective of the report: Identification of HCVs, and/or management and monitoring
guidance or recommendations, or full management plan.
Description of the concession (location, area, summary of land zoning and use rights)
New or existing plantation (application of RSPO P5.3 or P7.3, or both).
Status of plantation development (extent and dates of clearing, if any).
5. HCV Assessment Team
The assessment team should be presented in brief, e.g. for each member:
Name, relevant qualifications, summary of experience
Current institution
Roles (e.g. Team Leader, ecological or social specialist etc) and status as approved
RSPO HCV assessors
6. Methods
For each HCV, an overview of methods should be presented in an appropriate section of the
main assessment report. Assessors may choose to integrate detailed methods in the main
report, to append these in Annexes, or to present them in separate documents as
appropriate. It is important that detailed methods remain accessible, for quality control and in
order to verify or replicate findings. The overview should include:
Data compilation
Consultations performed (affected communities, experts, govt departments/agencies,
other stakeholders and public consultations)
Major secondary data sources (overview of data source types)
Dates of fieldwork, time spent in field
Dates of major events in assessment chronology
Peer review results (if applicable/available) and responses to comments (and where
stakeholders can find these e.g. in an Annexe, separate documents, company
website, HCV Resource Network Peer review website etc.).


7. Landscape context
Description of the wider context for HCV assessment and decision-making for each of:
Biodiversity values (e.g. boundaries of assessment landscape, biogeographic zone,
known features of biodiversity concern, major ecosystems, land cover, biophysical
data, etc)
Ecosystem services (e.g. topography, hydrology, soil types and erosion risk, etc)
Social and cultural values (names & locations of settlements, population and
ethnicity, socio-economic context etc)
8. HCV Identification Findings
For each HCV, the report must clearly indicate:
Presence, Potential*or Absence of the HCV,
Justification of the decision
A clear description of the HCV and its components
Map(s) of all the area(s) where the HCV is actually found or likely to be found (HCV
* It is insufficient simply to declare potential presence of an HCV/ HCV element (e.g. an
elusive key species, or a rare but critical community dependence on famine foods) without a
making a clear evaluation of the likelihood of presence, the limitations of current knowledge
and the steps which would need to be taken to reach a firm (actionable) decision.
9. HCV management
For each HCV, management options should be presented, aimed at maintaining or
enhancing the value. Threats to each HCV should be identified, described and addressed.
The management prescriptions should answer to the Terms of Reference/scope of the study
(see Section 4) and may include as appropriate:
Guidance (e.g. good practice guidance)
Management recommendations
Full management plan

Management prescriptions should be linked to appropriate maps and/or descriptions of
management areas (HCV Management Areas), which may differ from HCV Areas (e.g. may
include other zones where special management is required to maintain or enhance the HCVs
e.g. buffer zones, riparian strips, rehabilitation areas etc.)
10. Monitoring
As for management, monitoring options should be presented for each HCV, aimed at
verifying management aims. This should also be linked to the Terms of Reference/scope of
the study (see Section 4) and may include as appropriate:


Monitoring guidance and recommendations
Full monitoring plan

Monitoring prescriptions should be linked to appropriate maps/and or descriptions of
monitoring targets.
11. Conclusion or Synthesis
Management of separate HCVs is frequently combined in common management areas. It is
often useful to include an easy reference section which summarises and synthesises the 2
previous chapters for operational managers. This may include:
Overlay of HCV Management Areas (e.g. concession level spatial plan)
Summary of management and monitoring prescriptions

12. Appendices
Appendices should include all the important materials which an objective reviewer needs, to
verify the credibility and robustness of decisions taken in the main report, but which would
detract from the legibility of the report. These may include:
GIS maps, satellite imagery, aerial photography etc
A4-sized detailed maps (e.g. for operational managers use)
Detailed methodologies
Evidence of agreements/consultation between company and communities e.g. copies
of contracts, lists of attendees to meetings, evidence of FPIC etc
Long lists of consultation activities, comments and responses
Long lists of species, soil analyses, hydrology data or other technical
Peer reviews and responses
Text of applicable laws
and other as applicable

Appendices should usually be included with the main report, unless there is a good reason for
keeping them as separate documents (e.g. very large GIS files), or otherwise referenced and
13. References
This section should list key references and supplementary information (and where to find it).


Annex 1: Templates for peer review reports
Checklist C: is the main checklist which the HCV Technical Panel uses to peer review
HCV assessments. Sections 6.3. and 8.1. (conversion issues) always apply if any
conversion of natural or traditionally- managed areas is planned as part of the
operations under review. Section 8.2. (other conservation values) always applies for
applications outside of the context of a relevant multi- stakeholder certification
scheme. If these conditions do not apply, sections 6.3 and 8 may be omitted from
the review.
Checklist C: HCV identification, management and monitoring
Project name: Reviewer: (TP use only) Date of review:
Description of document content: Issues identified
C1. Executive summary of the document
Overall Executive summary
None Minor Major
a) Are the key findings clearly presented and summarised?
b) Does the summary accurately reflect the findings and recommendations of the
main document?
c) If no summary exists, is it still possible to use the document easily?
C1. Reviewer comments:
C2. Scope of the assessment
Overall Scope
None Minor Major
a) Is the assessment area and surrounding landscape clearly defined?
b) Is there a basic summary of the company and its operations in the area?
c) Are the impact and scale of proposed operations adequately described?
d) Did exploitation of any kind (especially clearance) take place prior to the
assessment, and if so, how are such areas treated?
e) Is the purpose of the HCV assessment clear?
C2. Reviewer comments:
C3. Wider landscape context and significance of the assessed area
Overall Landscape context
None Minor Major
a) Is the wider landscape convincingly and adequately described?
b) Are the key social and biological features of the wider landscape clearly
C3. Reviewer comments:


C4. HCV assessment process including consultation process
Overall HCV assessment process
None Minor Major
For each of the sub- topics, was the process or effort proportionate and adequate
relative to the likely impact and scale of operations?
4.1.Composition and qualifications of the assessment
None Minor Major
a) Did the team include or have adequate access to relevant expertise to assess
biological and social values?
4.1. Reviewer comments:
4.2. Data sources and data collection methodologies
None Minor Major
a) Are data sources and data collection methodologies clearly described or
referenced and summarised (and presented in annexes if appropriate), and are
they adequate to identify HCVs?
b) Were reasonable efforts made to fill gaps in the data, proportionate to the impact
and scale of the operations?
4.2. Reviewer comments:
4.3. Consultation processes
None Minor Major
a) Was there an appropriate consultation process for
Identification of HCVs
Management of HCVs
Monitoring of HCVs
b) Were appropriate existing initiatives engaged wherever possible (including
existing local or international social, ecological or biological conservation
4.3. Reviewer comments:
C5. Identification, location and status of each HCV
Overall HCV identification
None Minor Major
For all HCVs, are the following points addressed, and was the process or effort
proportionate and adequate relative to the likely impact and scale of operations?
5.1. Addressing all six HCVs
None Minor Major
a) Are all six HCVs addressed in the report?
b) If one or more HCVs are not addressed, is there adequate justification for not
doing so (e.g. the HCV is absent beyond reasonable doubt)?
5.1. Reviewer comments:


5.2. Data quality
None Minor Major
c) Are data detailed, recent and complete enough to make informed decisions on
presence/ status/ location of the HCV?
d) Is the precautionary principle appropriately invoked in the use of data?
e) Were maps, reports and other previously existing data up to date and adequate?
f) Is there an understanding of the spatial accuracy of the data used?
g) Should further data be collected before decisions are made?
5.2. Reviewer comments:
5.3. Reference to HCV toolkits
None Minor Major
a) Has a National Interpretation of HCVs been used, or (in the absence of a National
Interpretation), have the generic HCVF Toolkit guidelines been appropriately
b) Are decisions to apply National Interpretation definitions/ thresholds, or to
deviate from its recommendations, adequately explained and justified?
5.3. Reviewer comments:
C5.4. Decision on HCV status
None Minor Major
a) Is the HCV present, potentially present or absent in the assessed area?
b) Has the presence of the HCV in the wider landscape and nationally, regionally or
globally been addressed?
c) Is the HCV (and its components) clearly defined and described?
d) Is the description sufficient for responsible parties reliably to identify the HCV?


e) Was the precautionary principle appropriately invoked in making the decision on
HCV status?
5.4. Reviewer comments:
C5.5. Mapping decisions
None Minor Major
a) Are maps of HCV occurrence clear, accurate and useful?
b) Are maps of HCV occurrence presented at an adequate level of resolution and
sufficient completeness for management decisions?
5.5. Reviewer comments:
C6. Management of HCVs
Overall HCV management
None Minor Major
For each HCV, either individually or collectively, were the following points addressed
appropriately, relative to the likely impact and scale of operations?
6.1. Assessment of threats or risks to each HCV within
the landscape context
None Minor Major
a) Are threats or risks from current or planned management activities to each HCV
within the assessment area identified?
b) Have HCV management areas and management prescriptions been defined for
each HCV, wherever those HCVs occur?
c) Are threats from external factors to each HCV within the assessment area
d) Are aspects which might help to preserve the HCVs outside the assessment area


identified (e.g. protected areas, inaccessible areas, favourable land use, active
conservation programmes etc)?
e) Are aspects which would tend to threaten the HCVs outside the assessment area
identified (e.g. unfavourable land use, hunting pressures etc.)
6.1. Reviewer comments:
6.2. Are HCV management plans adequate?
None Minor Major
a) Are management objectives clearly described and appropriate?
b) Are management prescriptions clearly described and appropriate to meet stated
6.2. Reviewer comments:
6.3. Protection of HCVs from land use
N/ A None Minor Major
This section always applies if some areas are zoned for conversion from natural or
traditionally managed ecosystems. If not, tick the Not Applicable (N/ A) box.
a) Has each HCV been appropriately identified and mapped, within the wider
context, prior to any land use conversion activity?
b) Have appropriately scaled maps of HCV management areas been presented, prior
to any land use conversion activity?
c) For each HCV management area, are appropriate management prescriptions
clearly described?
d) Will HCV management areas adequately maintain or enhance HCVs at the site and
landscape level, given known plans for surrounding areas?
6.3. Reviewer comments:
C7. Monitoring of HCVs
Overall HCV monitoring
None Minor Major
For each HCV, either individually or collectively, were the following points addressed
appropriately, relative to the likely impact and scale of operations?
7.1 Are monitoring plans clearly described?
None Minor Major
a) Are monitoring objectives clearly described and appropriate?
b) Are methodologies clearly described and appropriate to meet stated objectives?
7.1 Reviewer comments:
7.2 Are monitoring plans adequate?
None Minor Major
a) Does the monitoring plan adequately deal with significant changes arising from
proposed management operations, or known or likely external threats to HCVs?


7.2 Reviewer comments:
7.3 Are plans for a regular review of data built in to the
management and monitoring plan?
None Minor Major
b) Is there a clear line of responsibility?
c) Is the monitoring system review process adequate for capturing effects of likely
threats/ risks to HCVs?
7.3 Reviewer comments:
C8. Responsible management of other conservation values
Overall: Responsible management
N/ A None Minor Major
8.1. Conversion of non- HCV ecosystems
N/ A None Minor Major
Section 8.1 always applies if some areas are zoned for conversion from natural or
traditionally managed ecosystems. If not, tick the Not Applicable (N/ A) box.
a) Are non- HCV natural or traditionally managed ecosystems identified?
b) Have appropriate stakeholders been identified, who are potentially interested or
affected by proposed conversion activities in these areas?
c) Has an appropriate multi- stakeholder dialogue taken place on plans for
conversion, with a balanced and fair representation of stakeholders?
d) Do conversion decisions fairly reflect the concerns of stakeholders?
8.1. Reviewer comments:
8.2. Responsible management of other
conservation values
N/ A None Minor Major
Section 8.2 always applies if the HCV assessment is not done in the context of a
credible natural resource certification scheme. If it is, tick the Not Applicable (N/ A)
a) Have other environmental and biodiversity values been identified and mapped?
b) Is there a process for sound management of other environmental and biodiversity
c) Are there adequate plans for monitoring other environmental and biodiversity
values and periodically reviewing their management?
8.2. Reviewer comments: