News  |  19.02.2021

FSC updates the "High Value Forest" project, now renamed to "Focus Forests"

The intention of the project is to find ways to use FSC's experience, including the protection of HCVs (High Conservation Values) inside the certified FMUs, as a basis for discussions about how to manage these and similar social and environmental values in the wider landscape.

FSC updates the "High Value Forest" project,  now renamed to "Focus Forests"

In January, we announced the launch of a major FSC survey on High Value Forests.

Based on a significant number of questions and concerns raised related to the ‘High Value Forest’ project that was recently presented to the FSC membership, FSC have decided to close the survey and will focus on explaining the project better to the members before asking the wider membership for any further engagement.

To eliminate the confusion raised by using the term ‘High Value Forests’, FSC will change the name of the initiative. HCVRN (High Conservation Values Resource Network) have proposed to call it 'Focus Forests', and FSC will follow this advice.

 

The intention of the project

FSC has no intention to change the rules related to HCVs. The intention of the project is to find ways to use FSC's experience, including the protection of HCVs inside the certified FMUs, as a basis for discussions about how to manage these and similar social and environmental values in the wider landscape. The concept of HCVs is well established and supported, and FSC completely agrees that it is “central to the integrity of the FSC and of other certification systems”.

In line with the FSC Global Strategy, the project is seeking answers to questions such as how FSC can best ensure FSC's relevance in the wider discussions about forest protection, and what is the role of forest stewardship in that context, considering the growing concerns with climate change and biodiversity loss linked to deforestation and forest degradation

For all this work, FSC and the research consortium consider HCVs as the starting point. HCVs are essential to FSC inside certified FMUs.

 

The IFL particularly concerned by this project

The project will indeed look at IFLs, but it will look at the wider landscape, not only the Forest Management Units (FMU), in order to understand how FSC could engage with forests that have high importance for climate change, biodiversity or other social or environmental values.

The Focus Forests initiative starts with a mapping and definition exercise, using not only FSC own terminology, but also the terms others are using, such as primary forests, ancient and endangered forests, old growth, etc.

The past six years of discussion about IFLs in FSC have shown how difficult it is to create agreement amongst FSC members on what protection rules should be. This makes the need for a constructive dialogue, based on clear definitions, values and visions, even more prominent.

FSC wants to engage land users, local communities, NGOs, government representatives, business and others – including FSC members from all chambers – to ensure that all legitimate interests are represented when conclusions are reached.

A common understanding of these issues could help to come around a common vision that would create more certainty for the different actors that their interests are taken care of, whether they are economic, social or environmental.

FSC hopes to be able to develop such opportunities for discussion in both boreal and tropical settings.

For more information, please contact Gemma Boetekees.