High Conservation Value Areas

Identifying areas of outstanding importance

Forest High Conservation Value Areas (HCVA) stand out because of their high environmental, socio-economic, biodiversity or landscape values. Looking at a forest through a HCVA prism allows WWF and our stakeholders to decide which parts of a forest must be given higher priority for protection than others.

Aerial view of Iténez Protected Area (Bolivian Amazon)
© WWF Bolivia / Gustavo YBARRA

The High Conservation Value (HCV) Resource Network Charter was launched by the Network Steering Group, of which WWF is a member, in October 2006.

Why identify HCVAs?

Identifying areas (including forests) of high conservation value assists forest owners, companies and other relevant forest stakeholders in conservation planning, to decide which parts of a forest must be given higher priority for protection than others.

The HCVA concept focuses on the values which make a particular area important in a particular social, cultural and geographical context. It is these values which must be identified and protected.

For instance, if the identified conservation value is the highly endangered mountain gorilla of Rwanda, then the forest in which these gorillas live becomes a high conservation value forest and management activities in that forest must protect gorillas.

Similarly, if the high conservation value identified is the sacred burial area of an indigenous people, then the forest containing the burial sites becomes an HCVA and management within that forest must protect the burial sites.

Engaging stakeholders to conserve HCVFs

WWF calls on producers, retailers and investors in the forestry, agricultural, mining and petroleum sectors and governments to ensure that their business activities do not promote the clearing or degradation of HCVAs.

WWF works with partners to identify and protect forests with high conservation value. A generic High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) toolkit which needs to be adapted for local, ecological and sociological conditions, provides practical guidelines to identify and manage high conservation value areas.

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