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RSPO and HCSA to jointly implement no deforestation in high cover landscapes

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) have agreed to establish a No Deforestation Joint Steering Group (NDJSG) focused on providing guidance on the implementation of no deforestation requirements in High Forest Cover Landscapes. This collaboration is to support the incorporation of No Deforestation and the HCS Approach into its revised certification standard that was adopted at the RSPO 15th annual General Assembly.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) have agreed to establish a No Deforestation Joint Steering Group (NDJSG) focused on providing guidance on the implementation of no deforestation requirements in High Forest Cover Landscapes (photo courtesy RSPO).

The approach to High Forest Cover Countries and Landscapes in some of the world’s last remaining tropical rainforests has been a key area for discussion over the course of the RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C) review process, in the last 18 months. The HCS Approach is to be incorporated into RSPO’s revised certification standard that was adopted at the RSPO 15th annual General Assembly held November 15 in Malaysia.

We are committed to working with the RSPO to develop guidance to implement no deforestation in High Forest Cover Countries and Landscapes. It is our hope that working together with Indigenous Peoples and local communities who will be supported and able to engage fully with this process we can find lasting solutions to the growing loss of rainforests in these regions, said Judy Rodrigues, Executive Director of the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA).

The Joint Steering Group will consider the palm oil sector’s transition to local community production that conserves and enhances ecosystems in High Forest Cover Landscapes, while achieving sustainable livelihoods and poverty reduction. It will also socialise plans to balance these objectives and ensure practices that respect land users’ rights and uphold indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination.

This collaboration provides the platform to provide lasting solutions to halting deforestation, through engagement and alignment on the approach. Most importantly, it will allow local stakeholders (particularly communities) to make their own participatory decisions on land use, in achieving positive impacts balancing sustainable livelihoods, and poverty reduction, with the need to conserve, protect and enhance ecosystems and respect land users’ rights, said Datuk Darrel Webber, CEO, RSPO.

About the HCS Approach

The HCS Approach is the first practical, field-tested methodology for distinguishing forest areas that should be protected or restored, from degraded lands that may be developed, using an integrated land-use planning approach. The methodology was developed with the aim to ensure a practical, transparent, robust, and scientifically credible approach that is widely accepted to implement commitments to halt deforestation in the tropics, while ensuring the rights and livelihoods of local peoples are respected.

HCAS is described as a “breakthrough” for plantation companies, manufacturers and supply chain actors who are committed to breaking the link between deforestation and land development in their operations by not clearing or purchasing goods from HCS forests and High Conservation Value (HCV) areas. The approach represents the first practical methodology that has been tested and developed in active concessions in Asia and Africa with input from a variety of stakeholders. It is a relatively simple tool that plantation companies can use for new developments while ensuring that forests are protected from conversion.

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