The HCS Approach Toolkit


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The HCS Approach Toolkit
The High Carbon Stock Approach: No Deforestation in Practice
Version 1.0 : March 2015

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Daemeter Forest Heroes Forest Peoples Programme (Executive Committee) Golden Agri-Resources (Executive Committee) Golden Veroleum (Liberia) Inc. Greenpeace (Executive Committee) Musim Mas National Wildlife Federation New Britain Palm Oil Ltd. Proforest Rainforest Action Network (Executive Committee) Rainforest Alliance TFT (Executive Committee) Unilever (Executive Committee) Union of Concerned Scientists Wilmar International Ltd. (Executive Committee) WWF (Executive Committee)
Copyright © HCS Approach Steering Group, March 2015 This work is licensed under the Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
To view a copy of this license, visit: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
All or portions of this report may be used, reprinted or distributed, provided the source is acknowledged. No use of this publication may be made for resale or other commercial purposes.

Version 1.0, March 2015 DOCUMRNT OVERVIEW CONTENTS
Document overview
Contents

P2: Introduction
P4: Acronyms and definitions
P6: Chapter 1: High Carbon Stock in context and an outline of the HCS Approach Toolkit
P11: Chapter 2: High Carbon Stock in context and an outline of the HCS Approach Toolkit
P28: Chapter 3: Conducting initial vegetation classification through image analysis
P54: Chapter 4: Forest inventory and estimation of carbon stock
P69: Chapter 5: High Carbon Stock forest patch conservation: Background and principles
P77: Chapter 6: HCS Forest Patch Analysis Decision Tree
P93: Chapter 7: Conclusions
P96: Bibliography

THE HCS APPROACH TOOLKIT THE HIGH CARBON STOCK APPROACH: NO DEFORESTATION IN PRACTICE

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Version 1.0, March 2015 INTRODUCTION INTRODUCTION FROM THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE HCS APPROACH STEERING GROUP
Introduction

There is now broad global agreement among a wide range of companies, research institutions, conservation and environmental NGOs, many governments, and forest-dependent communities on the need to stop tropical deforestation. Tropical forests hold the greatest diversity of life on Earth and provide a range of services we all need. Without them, people, businesses and the planet will not thrive.
The question, however, is how plantation companies and farmers can ensure they are not contributing to tropical deforestation with new plantations in order to grow the food, fuel, feed and fibre we need for our growing population. How can we differentiate degraded land potentially suitable for establishing plantations and crops from forest areas that need to be protected? Current approaches such as the High Conservation Value process, greenhouse gas emissions monitoring, participatory mapping and respect for communities’ rights to land and to give or withhold their Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) may slow deforestation and secure peoples’ livelihoods, but they have not stopped all forest clearance. These approaches remain valuable, but they do not delineate all areas of natural forest for which protection is sought, and thus do not provide sufficient guidance for implementing ‘No Deforestation’ policy commitments. There is also a clear need for a practical definition of ‘natural forest’ which can be used in concessions.
In response to this challenge and following a bold commitment to ‘No Deforestation’, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) in collaboration with Greenpeace and TFT have pioneered a methodology to identify natural forest areas, called the High Carbon Stock Approach. From 2010-2014, processes to define potentially viable areas of tropical forest as well as degraded lands were trialled in Indonesia and Liberia, combining carbon storage, biodiversity conservation and local community rights and livelihoods. In August 2014, a multistakeholder HCS Approach Steering Group was formed to oversee the further development of the methodology and its use in the field.
To standardise and make it available to all practitioners who need it, the Steering Group has published here the HCS methodology as Version One of the HCS Approach Toolkit, to be used in further trials and for broader consultation. We will periodically issue updates to the toolkit, as well as new chapters covering how to conserve, restore and monitor HCS forests. We are very much seeking feedback on the approach, and welcome input to the Steering Group on the implementation of it across different tropical regions in order to strengthen and refine the methodology. The HCS Approach Steering Group is developing a set of ‘Quality Assurance’ requirements for users, and in the interim we ask HCS Approach practitioners to apply the methodology as it is laid out in the toolkit.

“How can we differentiate degraded land potentially suitable for establishing plantations and crops from forest areas that need to be protected?”
To those who will be using the HCS Approach, it is important to note that identifying HCS forests is only one of several critical aspects of land use planning in forest landscapes. Lands vital to local communities, High Conservation Value (HCV) areas and peatlands must also be protected. During the HCS process and in particular the final phase of the methodology, the HCS Approach integrates with these other categories of land use. It therefore relies on high quality HCV assessments, participatory mapping, respect for customary rights and FPIC to arrive at a proposed conservation area plan.
In closing, we would like to thank the authors and reviewers who have contributed to this toolkit, and all those who share our vision of the HCS Approach and its contribution to ending deforestation.
Marcus Colchester Forest Peoples Programme Aida Greenbury Asia Pulp and Paper Peter Heng Golden Agri-Resources Scott Poynton TFT Grant Rosoman Greenpeace Editorial Committee of the HCS Toolkit, on behalf of the HCS Approach Steering Group

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THE HCS APPROACH TOOLKIT THE HIGH CARBON STOCK APPROACH: NO DEFORESTATION IN PRACTICE

Version 1.0, March 2015
INTRODUCTION INTRODUCTION FROM THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE HCS APPROACH STEERING GROUP

The High Carbon Stock Approach: A practical approach to ‘No Deforestation’
By Peter Heng (Golden Agri-Resources), Scott Poynton (TFT) and Grant Rosoman (Greenpeace)

“The HCS Approach is already a practical tool which can be used for any product, in any country in the humid tropics, to address the need for forest protection within agricultural development”

“No Deforestation” is a rallying cry for concerned consumers around the world. They are fed up with images of communities being evicted from their lands and orang-utans being rescued from tiny islands of forest areas among vast open land which has been cleared for the latest industrial plantation. But to put “No Deforestation” into practice, we need to answer some complex questions:
• What exactly characterizes a forest? Most tropical forest landscapes today are not entirely covered with forests, but rather have a dynamic mix of vegetation, ranging from grassland to scrub to regenerating forests to dense forests with a high canopy. Where do we draw the line between ‘forest’ and ‘non-forest’, given the impracticality of the various international definitions of forest?
• What attributes and conditions allow a tropical forest to maintain and restore its functions as a forest? Is the size of a forest patch important to its survival?
• Can we design a healthy forest mosaic in economically active areas that maintains carbon and biodiversity, and integrates with other conservation tools? Should we ‘sacrifice’ smaller lower carbon and biodiversity patches to development to prioritise conservation of larger well-connected forest patches? How should we take into consideration the amount of forest remaining in the landscape?
• How are local community rights and needs addressed in the process of halting deforestation? What level of support and involvement of local communities do we need to achieve forest conservation in both the short and long term? What is the role of governments in achieving No Deforestation?
The HCS Approach is an attempt to answer these questions. It is a pragmatic land use planning tool rather than a carbon assessment, which provides a methodology for implementing the No Deforestation concept in active concessions slated for development in tropical forest countries. It aims to respect customary rights and meet community needs while at the same time considering the company’s operational reality. In short, the approach offers a paradigm shift to include forest conservation as a cornerstone of any expansion of agriculture in tropical forest landscapes.

Development of the HCS Approach started in late 2010 by Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), TFT and Greenpeace during the development of GAR’s Forest Conservation Policy. This included working through the challenges of defining ‘forests’ and achieving conservation of these forests in the long-term, as described above. Since then the approach has been trialled in GAR-related palm oil concessions in West Kalimantan, Indonesia and Liberia, as well as with other companies in pilot HCS studies elsewhere in Indonesia and in Papua New Guinea. The two phases of the approach have had separate expert reviews and inputs from multiple stakeholders to develop the current methodology described in this toolkit.
In 2014 dozens of companies in the palm oil and pulp and paper sectors, as well as key consumer goods companies, pledged to use the HCS Approach to implement their own No Deforestation pledges. This is encouraging, and has lent urgency to completing the first version of this toolkit for practitioners who want to responsibly develop plantations in tropical forest landscapes. While feedback from further implementation will improve the methodology, we are confident that the HCS Approach is already a practical tool which can be used for any product, in any country in the humid tropics, to address the need for forest protection within agricultural development. We look forward to learning lessons from HCS studies in new regions as we embark together on this No Deforestation journey.
All photos: Courtesy TFT ©

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Version 1.0, March 2015 A TOOLKIT FOR THOSE IMPLEMENTING HCS ACRONYMS AND DEFINITIONS
Acronyms and definitions

TERM

ACRONYM DEFINITION

Diameter at Breast Height

DBH Tree diameter measurement normally taken 1.3m up from ground level (see Chapter 4).

Environmental and Social

ESIA

Impact Assessment

Free, Prior and Informed

FPIC

The principle that a community has the right

Consent to give or withhold its consent to proposed

projects that may affect the lands they

customarily own, occupy or otherwise use.

(Source: FPP)

Geographic Information

GIS

System

A computer system capable of assembling, storing, manipulating, and displaying information identified according to its location on Earth. (From USGS)

Global Positioning System

GPS A system that uses signals from satellites to tell you where you are and to give you directions to other places. (From Webster.com).

High Carbon Stock

HCS HCS forests are those identified through the HCS Approach as forested areas to be prioritised for protection from conversion.

High Conservation Value

HCV High Conservation Values (HCVs) are biological, ecological, social or cultural values or attributes associated with natural or traditionally managed ecosystems, which are considered outstandingly significant or critically important at the national, regional or global level. HCV management areas are critical areas in a landscape which need to be managed appropriately in order to maintain or enhance one or more HCVs. Areas which possess such attributes include: HCV1: Areas containing globally, regionally or nationally significant concentrations of biodiversity values (e.g. endemism, endangered species, refugia). HCV2: Globally, regionally or nationally significant landscapes 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 ecosystem services 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 cooperation with such local communities). (Source: HCV Network)

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THE HCS APPROACH TOOLKIT THE HIGH CARBON STOCK APPROACH: NO DEFORESTATION IN PRACTICE

Version 1.0, March 2015
A TOOLKIT FOR THOSE IMPLEMENTING HCS ACRONYMS AND DEFINITIONS

TERM

ACRONYM DEFINITION

High Density Forest

HDF

One of the HCS vegetation classes

High forest cover landscape A landscape with a natural forest cover greater than 80%.

International Union for the Conservation of Nature

IUCN

Landscape

A geographical mosaic composed of interacting ecosystems resulting from the influence of geological, topographical, soil, climatic, biotic and human interactions in a given area. (Source: IUCN).

Low Density Forest

LDF

One of the HCS vegetation classes

Low forest cover landscape

A landscape with a natural forest cover of less than 30%

Medium Density Forest

MDF

One of the HCS vegetation classes.

Medium forest cover landscape A landscape with a natural forest cover of between 30 and 80%.

Non-timber forest product

NTFP Any product or service other than timber that is produced in forests. NTFPs include fruits and nuts, vegetables, fish and game, medicinal plants, resins, essences and a range of barks and fibres such as bamboo, rattans and a host of other palms and grasses. (Source: CIFOR)

Reducing Emissions from

REDD+

A framework being developed by the UN

Deforestation and Degradation

through which developing countries are

(UN-REDD+) rewarded financially for (a) Reducing emissions

from deforestation; (b) Reducing emissions from

forest degradation; (c) Conservation of forest

carbon stocks; (d) Sustainable management of

forests; and/or (e) Enhancement of forest carbon

stocks. (From The REDD Desk, 2015)

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

RSPO

Set-aside area, set-asides

A tract of land within a private concession or farm on which commercial crops will not be grown.

Young Regenerating Forest

YRF

One of the HCS vegetation classes

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Version 1.0, March 2015 CHAPTER ONE THE HIGH CARBON STOCK APPROACH: A PRACTICAL APPROACH TO ‘NO DEFORESTATION’
Chapter 1
High Carbon Stock in context and an outline of the HCS Approach Toolkit
By Charlotte Opal, TFT
CHAPTER CONTENTS P7: Introduction P8: The HCS Approach in context P9: An overview of the HCS Approach and the HCS Toolkit P10: The future of the HCS Approach Toolkit

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THE HCS APPROACH TOOLKIT THE HIGH CARBON STOCK APPROACH: NO DEFORESTATION IN PRACTICE

Version 1.0, March 2015 CHAPTER ONE THE HIGH CARBON STOCK APPROACH: A PRACTICAL APPROACH TO ‘NO DEFORESTATION’
Introduction

In the past five years, dozens of leading companies in the soy, palm oil, pulp & paper, and beef industries have agreed to eliminate deforestation from their activities and supply chains. Many of them had already agreed to protect ‘High Conservation Value’ (HCV) areas, yet many secondary forests that provide essential carbon storage, habitat for biodiversity, and forest products for local communities are not considered HCV. Some broader definitions of ‘forest’ exist, but are not practical enough to be able to implement company commitments to No Deforestation in the tropics.
“There is a clear need for a practical, scientifically robust and cost-effective methodology that can distinguish viable forest areas from degraded areas that have lower carbon and biodiversity values”

There is thus a clear need for a practical, scientifically robust and cost-effective methodology that can distinguish viable forest areas from degraded areas that have lower carbon and biodiversity values. The High Carbon Stock Approach represents the first practical methodology that has been tested and developed in active concessions in Asia and Africa with input from a variety of stakeholders. It is a relatively simple tool that plantation companies can use for new developments while ensuring that forests are protected from conversion.
Broadly, the HCS Approach stratifies the vegetation on an area of land into different classes. Each vegetation class is validated through calibrating it with carbon stock estimates in the above-ground tree biomass. The diagram below shows the four HCS forest classes; the threshold for potential HCS forests lies between the Young Regenerating Forest (YRF) and Scrub (S) classes.
This High Carbon Stock Approach Toolkit will take practitioners through the steps in identifying HCS forest, from initial stratification of the vegetation using satellite images and field plots, through a Decision Tree process to assess the conservation value of the HCS forest patches in the landscape and ensure communities’ rights and livelihoods are respected, to making the final conservation and land use map. This chapter gives a brief overview of the HCS process and an outline of the toolkit, beginning with an overview of the HCS Approach in its broader context.

HCS CLASSIFICATION

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Version 1.0, March 2015 CHAPTER ONE THE HIGH CARBON STOCK APPROACH: A PRACTICAL APPROACH TO ‘NO DEFORESTATION’
The HCS Approach in context

First, it is important to note that the HCS methodology is designed for use in fragmented forest landscapes and mosaics in the humid tropics. The methodology could eventually be adapted to other vegetation types such as tropical savannahs or temperate or boreal forests, but this first iteration was developed to identify natural forest areas in the humid tropics, and this toolkit will explain how to use it in that context.
Second, despite having the word ‘carbon’ in the title, the High Carbon Stock forest concept is not intended to be used as a measure of carbon stores, or for any type of carbon footprint or accounting. While forests are of course important stores of carbon, there are many other reasons to protect them. Estimates of carbon content of the vegetation are simply used in the HCS Approach to help distinguish different types of vegetation: generally speaking, more carbon indicates denser and more structurally complex vegetation. The HCS Approach thus uses an estimate of above-ground biomass in trees greater than or equal to 5cm DBH (diameter at breast height) only – other above-ground biomass and below ground carbon is not considered. (However, high carbon soils such as peatlands are taken into account in the approach through being added to the areas for protection and conservation in the final integrative land use planning stage).
Third, the HCS Approach is grounded in GIS and remote sensing, forestry and conservation science, but the methodology for determining HCS forest is designed to take into account variations in the local forest types and conditions. This means that while the methodology used to identify HCS forests is the same in every country, the results of each assessment may vary according to the context of local landscapes, even when the rules described in this toolkit are consistently applied. Average above-ground carbon values are calculated for the classes identified, but these will likely vary among countries and even within the same country.
Finally, the HCS Approach is designed to be used in parallel and integrated with other land use and conservation strategies. These include free prior and informed consent (FPIC) and the protection of peatlands, riparian zones, HCV areas, and areas important to local communities and indigenous people for cultural or economic reasons. Indeed, if these other aspects have not been properly assessed and mapped, the steps set out in the HCS Approach cannot be fully completed because a final integrated land use and conservation map cannot be developed.

STEPS IN THE HCS PROCESS

PHASE 1: VEGETATION CLASSIFICATION TO IDENTIFY FOREST AREAS

StraƟfy satellite image into
vegetaƟon classes
Locate sample plots

Measure and collect data

EsƟmate carbon of each classes
OUTPUT: PotenƟal HCS forest idenƟfied
HCS Patch Analysis Decision Tree
ConservaƟon of HCS forest

PHASE 2: HCS FOREST PATCH ANALYSIS AND CONSERVATION

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THE HCS APPROACH TOOLKIT THE HIGH CARBON STOCK APPROACH: NO DEFORESTATION IN PRACTICE

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The HCS Approach Toolkit