HIGH CONSERVATION VALUE FORESTS  
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HCVF Concept

High conservation value forests (HCVF) are such forests, which have a specially high ecological or social value. In other words, HCVF are such forests which are more valuable in terms of biodiversity values, ecological values and importance for local people than in terms of industrial timber.

HCVF as a concept contains no any principally new ideas. Such forests, which were not cut or cut with strong restrictions because of different reasons, existed for many centuries. Nowadays such forests are varying a lot and exist somehow almost everywhere, where forestry exists. But in the framework of HCVF concept such a forests are united by one general term (HCVF) and general ideology.

The term “HCVF” appeared during elaboration of voluntary forest certification systems.

The HCVF concept was initially developed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and first published in 1999. Under Principle 9 for FSC certification, forest managers are required to identify any High Conservation Values (HCVs) that occur within their individual forest management units, to manage them in order to maintain or enhance the values identified, and to monitor the success of this management.

So, sustainable and environmentally responsible forestry means that maintaining of environmental and social values is not less important than deriving an income.

All this means that logging should be excluded of restricted in such a forests – otherwise they would loose their conservational value. If logging operations allowed, they must be carried out with special plans. HCVF identification and conservation is one of the Principles of sustainable forest management certification by FSC.

Nowadays HCVF are defined in “Russian framework national standard for forest FSC certification” and in some projects of regional standards. The experience of interpretation, identification and mapping of HCVF in Russia is rather extensive (see “Regions” and “Maps and Projects”). Since Russia is a huge country, HCVF in Russia can be of International, National and Sub-National (Regional) level.

HCVF types

In order to represent in HCVF all the variety of forest values and functions, they are divided into several types. FSC Terms and Definitions contain such a definition of different HCVF:

Forests with High Conservation Values. Forests with High Conservation Values are forests that possess one or more of the following attributes:

  • forest areas containing globally, regionally or nationally significant concentrations of biodiversity values (e.g. endemism, endangered species, refugia); and/or large landscape level forests, contained within, or containing the management unit, where viable populations of most if not all naturally occurring species exist in natural patterns of distribution and abundance

  • forest areas that are in or contain rare, threatened or endangered ecosystems

  • forest areas that provide basic services of nature in critical situations (e.g. watershed protection, erosion control)

  • forest areas fundamental to meeting basic needs of local communities (e.g. subsistence, health) and/or critical to local communities’ traditional cultural identity (areas of cultural, ecological, economic or religious significance identified in cooperation with such local communities).

Now most of experts use a little bit more detailed classification of HCVF: High Conservation Values and their elements

HCV 1 Globally, regionally or nationally significant concentrations of biodiversity values
HCV 1.1 Protected Areas
HCV 1.2 Threatened and endangered species
HCV 1.3 Endemic species
HCV 1.4 Critical temporal use
HCV 2 Globally, regionally or nationally significant large landscape level forests
No additional elements
HCV 3. Forest areas that are in or contain rare, threatened or endangered ecosystems
No additional elements
HCV 4. Forest areas that provide basic services of nature in critical situations
HCV 4.1 Forests critical to water catchments
HCV 4.2 Forests critical to erosion control
HCV 4.3 Forests providing barriers to destructive fire
HCV 5. Forest areas fundamental to meeting basic needs of local communities
No additional elements
HCV 6. Forest areas critical to local communities’ traditional cultural identity
No additional elements

(Jennings et al., “The High Conservation Value Forest Toolkit”, 2003)

 

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