High Conservation Value Forest | WWF-Canada

High Conservation Value Forest

	© Tessa MACINTOSH / WWF-Canada
Lac la Martre Falls in autumn, Northwest Territories, Canada.
© Tessa MACINTOSH / WWF-Canada

High Conservation Value Forests (HCVFs) are defined by the Forest Stewardship Council as forests of outstanding and critical importance due to their high environmental, socio-economic, biodiversity or landscape values. HCVFs comprise the crucial forest areas and values that need to be maintained or enhanced in a landscape and are found within a wide range of forest conditions (largely intact to largely fragmented).

Although originally designed as a tool to help forest certification, the HCVF concept is being extended to more general conservation planning including the design of representative networks of protected areas and buffer zones. In practice, many HCVFs will continue to be managed outside protected areas and here approaches will vary, but two principles are paramount: (1) HCVFs are managed to maintain the attributes that are of high conservation value, and (2) management employs the precautionary principle, which requires that where the effects of extraction and other management are unknown, values are ensured through a cautious approach.

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High Conservation Value Forests - North American Scan:

	© Frank PARHIZGAR / WWF-Canada
Rainforest, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, Canada.
© Frank PARHIZGAR / WWF-Canada
WWF-Canada contracted Responsible Forestry Solutions (RFS) to assess the uptake of the High Conservation Value Forests approach in North America and to determine the conservation gains resulting from the implementation of HCVF assessments through forest management certification activities. A secondary objective was to document strengths of the HCVF approach as well as areas for improvement under a continuous improvement model.

The results of the study are provided in six (6) documents. The main report, Evaluating Conservation Gains in North America Through HCVF Assessments, documents progress on Principle 9 (HCVF) and Principle 6.4 (protected areas) by evaluating 171 FSC forest management certificates. A relational database contains the study results for each of the forest management certificates (see HCVFSummaryReports.zip below). Four (4) accompanying databases compare the expectations between different regional standards for these two components of the FSC certification (see Standards Assessment Table 6.4 & Table P.9 and Standards Comparison Table 6.4 and Table P.9 in Excel format). More detailed case studies for five (5) forest management certificates were also evaluated to provide a check of the publicly available data. The case studies are not publicly available.