RSPO agrees on HCV approach for smallholders

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil's Biodiversity and HCV, and Smallholder Working Groups have officially approved the simplified High Conservation Value (HCV) approach for independent smallholders with established plantations, as developed by the HCV Resource Network and SHARP.

The decision means that oil-palm smallholders can use the approach to comply with criterion 5.2 of the RSPO standard, as part of achieving RSPO certification for their products. As a result, they will no longer have to follow the ordinary HCV assessment approach (explained here), which is generally considered too challenging and costly for smallholders to undertake.

A cost-effective yet robust methodology to manage and maintain HCVs

The approach endorsed by the RSPO has been developed through extensive field trials with smallholders. These include trials led by SHARP partners in Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia and Tanzania, as reported on this website. The approach has been tailored to independent smallholders, who do not have easy access to support, and provides a cost-effective yet robust methodology for them to manage and maintain HCVs. However, scheme smallholders, who have access to support from mills or companies, cannot use this approach to show compliance with criterion 5.2 and are required to participate in ordinary HCV assessments as part of a company or mill's responsibility. This methodology is also not applicable to smallholders with new plantings or in situations of expansion (addressed by RSPO criterion 7.3).

To accompany its endorsement, the RSPO has published guidance for group managers to oversee the approach. The guidance is based on the concept of applying Precautionary Practices. Group managers start with scoping and pre-identification of potentially present and affected HCVs, followed by a dialogue with group members to identify, validate and agree on a common set of Precautionary Practices and subsequent verification that these practices are actually implemented.

Download the guidance for independent smallholders on managing HCVs in established oil-palm plantations from RSPO’s website here.  

Photo by Daniel Arancibia

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