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SHARP and its partners are looking for ways to assist smallholders to assess, monitor and avoid deforestation caused by agricultural expansion, with an initial focus on palm oil.

Practical approaches for minimising deforestation

Expansion of agriculture globally has resulted in the conversion of millions of hectares of forests and other natural ecosystems with negative impacts on climate, biodiversity and forest peoples. As a result there is growing recognition of the importance of minimising deforestation associated with increased agricultural production. However, smallholders often have little access to information on the impacts of clearing forests, and they often lack incentives to maintain forests on their land and tools for deciding where agricultural expansion is more appropriate. SHARP works with SHARP partners, to develop ways to provide incentives to smallholders who minimise deforestation together with approaches for raising awareness and practical tools for managing expansion in practice. This includes development of training programmes and practical tools on assessing and monitoring high conservation value (HCV) areas.

The simplified HCV approach for smallholders

In 2014, SHARP and the HCV Resource Network began developing an approach to managing High Conservation Values which is tailored to a smallholder context. Identifying, managing and monitoring HCVs in agricultural areas has become a key requirement in responsible resource management and agricultural commodity purchasing policies. Producers such as forestry companies and palm oil mills which seek to comply with such policies or to attain certification may carry out HCV assessments. However, HCV assessments that follow the traditional approach, as explained here by the HCV Resource Network, are not well suited to the needs and capacities of smallholders.

Therefore SHARP and the HCV Resource Network began a consultative process to design a simplified approach specifically for smallholders to use. During September to December 2014, SHARP tested a simplified approach among oil-palm farmers in Brazil, Colombia, Honduras and Ghana. At the same time, the RSPO working groups on biodiversity and HCV and on smallholders were interested in testing a tool for smallholders developed by Conservation International. SHARP carried out a trial of this tool also.

SHARP used the results of the trials to develop a unified HCV approach for smallholders. The approach was recognised and endorsed by RSPO in February 2015 for further field testing. During 2015, field tests were launched with oil-palm smallholder farmers at four sites: in Ghana (partners: Rainforest Alliance and Solidaridad); Honduras (Jaremar and PASH); Indonesia (SNV and smallholder cooperatives); and Tanzania (Seed Change). For details, see the Updates page.

The simplified HCV approach for smallholders will enable smallholder groups to conduct cost-effective HCV assessments in situations of low and medium deforestation risk without compromising the robustness and quality of the HCV concept. It guides group managers step by step with a series of tools for HCV identification, management and monitoring at the individual smallholder level and the supply landscape level. Workshops are held with participating smallholders to discuss the concepts of HCV and ecosystem services, confirm the presence of HCVs in the area and develop both precautionary practices and a monitoring plan.

The approach include templates (checklists, questionnaires and participatory mapping) and capacity-building materials. There will also be feedback mechanisms to improve the tool and its application by sharing results with similar practitioners.

HCV interview:

download icon small Meet Mwajuma Hemedi

A participant in the HCV for smallholders approach in Tanzania

 download icon small Click for a Q&A with Mwajuma

HCV update November 2015