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High Conservation Values
Protecting areas of high social and environmental significance

High conservation values (HCVs) are areas of forest or other vegetation types that have particularly high importance for social or environmental reasons.

Principle 9 of the FSC Principles and Criteria sets out the FSC requirements for the identification and management of HCVs, which must be maintained or enhanced in FSC certified forests.

The Forest Program is responsible for developing guidance for forest managers on the identification, management and monitoring of HCVs. 

A guidance document has been recently approved to support the identification of High Conservation Values. You can read this guidance by clicking on the right link on this page. Check the HCV Common Guidance section for more information about this Common Guidance on the Identification of High Conservation Values.

The Forest Program also advises national Standards Development Groups on how to interpret Principle 9 for their national context, through the process of development of National Forest Stewardship Standards.

Owners of small and low-intensity managed forests (SLIMFs) face particular challenges when it comes to implementing HCV requirements. The Forest Program has published a step-by-step guide for managers and owners of SLIMFs to help them identify and manage HCVs within their forests.