HCVF Defined

All forests contain environmental and social values, such as wildlife habitats, watershed and soil protection and cultural significance.  Where these values are considered to be of outstanding significance or critical importance, the forest can be defined as a High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF).  A HCVF is the area of forest that is required in order to maintain or enhance a High Conservation Value which, under the FSC does not necessarily preclude the management (e.g. harvesting, silvicultural treatment and stand manipulation, etc) of the forest at large, provided that such management is compatible with maintaining or enhancing the identified HCV.  

The HCVF was initially developed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for use in forest management certification.  Under FSC certification, forest managers are required to identify any High Conservation Values (HCVs) that occur within their individual forest management units and manage them in order to maintain or enhance the values identified. 

The FSC’s definition of HCVs encompasses exceptional or critical ecological attributes, ecosystem services and social functions; and summarized as follows:

HCV1  Forest areas containing globally, regionally or nationally significant 
concentrations of biodiversity value (e.g. endemism, endangered species, refugia).
HCV2  Forest areas containing globally, regionally or nationally significant large 
landscape level forests, contained within, or containing the management unit, where viable populations of most of not all naturally occurring species exist in natural patterns of distribution and abundance.
HCV3 Forest areas that are or contain rare, threatened or endangered 
HCV4 Forest areas that provide basic services of nature in critical situations 
(e.g. watershed protection, erosion control).
HCV5 Forest area fundamental to meeting basic needs of local communities 
(e.g. subsistence, health).
HCV6 Forest areas critical to local communities’ traditional cultural identity 
(areas of cultural, ecological, economic or religious significance identified in cooperation with such local communities).
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