Greenpeace exclusive on High Carbon Stock land use, and what it means for business

Grant Rosoman offers an update on what’s happening in this complex and highly important area for businesses concerned about deforestation and sustainable land use

Market transformation is happening: a growing number of companies involved in palm oil and pulp and paper have adopted No Deforestation policies, and have declared they will implement these commitments through the High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach.

Now as a next step, leading plantation companies with commitments to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains, NGOs and technical support organisations met recently in Singapore to establish a HSC governance and standardisation body.

This body, the HCS Steering Group, will work together to demonstrate that immediate action can be taken to break the link between deforestation and high-risk commodities, such as palm oil and pulp and paper. (continues below)


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The companies involved in the process are Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), Cargill, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), Golden Veroleum Liberia, Wilmar and the producer members of the Palm Oil Innovation Group, Agropalma and New Britain Palm Oil.

The international NGOs involved include: Conservation International, Forest Heroes, Forest Peoples’ Programme (FPP), Greenpeace, National Wildlife Federation, Rainforest Action Network, Rainforest Alliance, Union of Concerned Scientists and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and as observers, The Nature Conservancy and World Resources Institute as well as the technical support organisations Daemeter, Proforest and The Forest Trust (TFT).

The mission of the HCS Steering Group is ‘To ensure that there is a practical, transparent, robust, and scientifically credible approach that is widely accepted to implement commitments to halt deforestation in the tropics while ensuring that the rights, livelihoods and aspirations of local peoples are respected.’

The HCS approach was first developed by Golden Agri Resources, TFT and Greenpeace in 2011.

Put simply, it is a tool to help companies and others implement commitments to end deforestation. The methodology to implement the approach aims to provide a practical and credible way to identify degraded areas suitable for plantation development and forest areas that merit protection to maintain and enhance carbon, biodiversity and social values.

For companies, HCS is part of a suite of actions to deliver on their commitments to prevent further deforestation. Various consumer companies including Mars, Nestle, Colgate Palmolive, Neste Oil and Unilever, refer to the HCS methodology in their responsible sourcing policies.

In practice the approach is to integrate HCS assessments with High Conservation Value (HCV) assessments, protection of peatlands, and processes to accommodate local communities’ livelihoods and aspirations, respect their rights to their lands and to give or withhold their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) to proposed developments.

In a significant breakthrough, the companies involved have all have agreed to stop any further land clearing for plantations until High Carbon Stock assessments have been completed and management plans enacted to protect High Carbon Stock areas.

The parties which met in Singapore nominated representatives for the HCS Steering Group to lead a process for further development and global standardisation of the HCS methodology. This includes seeking review and advice from a science committee and expert guidance based on a range of field trials.

To assist its widespread adoption, the Steering Group will develop a process to ensure quality control of the use of the methodology, in coordination with institutions including the RSPO, FSC and the High Conservation Value Resource Network.

A ‘Consultative Forum’ will be established, and we welcome all relevant stakeholders to take part in it, to ensure that the Steering Group has a means of sharing its progress and to receive feedback to hone the HCS Approach. The wider the participation, the broader the positive impact can be for social and environmental protection.

Grant Rosoman is the solutions coordinator for Greenpeace’s Forests campaign.

For more information, see www.greenpeace.org/forestsolutions

Andy Tait, senior campaign adviser for Greenpeace, will be discussing the above at Innovation Forum’s conference “How business can tackle deforestation – Collaborate effectively with suppliers and NGOs, understand policy and enforcement trends” on October 28-29 in London.

He’ll be alongside all the leading players in the debate, including APP, Wilmar, Golden-Agri, New Britain Palm Oils, Unilever, Nestle, Mars, M&S, McDonald’s, Aviva Investors, EIA, Lord Mandelson, Robertsbridge, Tony Juniper, The Forest Trust, Ikea and many others. Sign up at the link above. Full brochure here.

The conference will then be repeated on April 14-15 205 in Washington DC. Contact me if interested. tobias.webb@innovation-forum.co.uk