SHARP pioneers HCV tool for smallholders

Following field tests, RSPO has endorsed a smallholder-specific approach for High Conservation Value assessment

SHARP and the HCV Resource Network piloted an innovative new approach in 2014: the simplified HCV approach for smallholders.

Identifying, managing and monitoring High Conservation Values (HCVs) in agricultural areas has become a key requirement of responsible resource management and agricultural commodity purchasing policies. However, HCV assessments are long, complicated and expensive.

So far the realities of smallholders, who in some cases comprise 50% of the supply of bigger companies or mills, have not been considered. As a result, few smallholders have complied with this requirement.

So a simplified HCV approach designed specifically for smallholders was tested among oil-palm farmers in Brazil, Colombia, Honduras and Ghana from September to December 2014, in collaboration with companies and organisations.

Towards a unified approach

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. It was a great opportunity to understand the synergies between the tools.

As a result, SHARP is now working on a unified HCV approach that combines the best elements of both methodologies. This approach was recognised and endorsed by RSPO for further field testing in February 2015.

The revised simplified approach 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 will guide 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.

The approach will 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.

SHARP, its partners and the HCV Resource Network aim for this approach to be eventually recognised by RSPO as a way to foster the adoption of certification by smallholders and increase their participation in responsible supply chains.

Pilots in four countries

Veronique Bovee, Anders Lindhe, Edegar de Oliveira and Daniel Arancibia led the development of the methodology and tools.
  • In Latin America, field testing began in Honduras, where activities were coordinated and implemented in the Atlantida region with the company Jaremar and consultants Darien Zuñiga and Alicia Medina.
  • In the Brazilian Amazon, SHARP worked with the company ADM in the state of Pará and consultant Arthur Wieczorek.
  • Activities in the northern Caribbean coast of Colombia were coordinated and implemented with the companies Aceites S.A. and CI Tequendama and technical personnel of the GEF-funded project “Sustainability in the palm oil sector in Colombia” (Fedepalma, Instituto Humboldt and WWF Colombia).
  • Pilot testing in Ghana took place during October in the Brong-Ahafo region, coordinated by SHARP partner Rainforest Alliance.
Everyone involved provided generous and exceptional support for this assignment.

In view of promising results and interest by companies, SHARP will produce a toolkit and start piloting its implementation in the countries. If you are interested in the simplified HCV approach please contact Anders Lindhe (

(Image: Daniel Arancibia.)