The concept of High Conservation Value (HCV) area is defined by the Forest Stewardship Council as having outstanding and critical importance due to its high environmental, socio-economic, biodiversity or landscape values. For example, the forested areas may contain rare, threatened or endangered ecosystems, or the areas may provide basic services of nature in critical situations such as erosion control. The concept is conceived as a way of reconciling socio-economic progress with environmental protection.
We are committed to carrying out comprehensive and prudent HCV area assessments before commencing any land clearing or new plantation development. These are conducted by independent experts and peer-reviewed by the HCV Network. The results of the assessments are incorporated into management plans for plantation development. It is our policy to not develop areas identified to have a high conservation value and instead leave them in their natural state.
If high conservation values are present on our sites, we will implement the following measures:
- Formulate conservation management plans to protect endemic and endangered species or habitats
- Avoid damage and deterioration of applicable areas
- Protect these areas from potential illegal or inappropriate threats such as poaching
- Enhance the identified natural and biological values
However, merely setting aside conservation areas without due protection may lead to eventual degradation. Recognising that illegal logging and poaching activities continue to threaten these treasured coves, Wilmar works assiduously to protect its tracts of conservation areas. One such effort is our Ranger Programme in certain plantations, where Rangers empowered with full police power and authority undertake daily patrols targeting at illegal logging and hunting activities. We also have biodiversity and conservation managers as well as a primatologist to develop and implement conservation management plans. The management plans serve to maintain and enhance biodiversity values of the protected areas within our oil palm plantations.
Another important aspect of conservation is the protection of riparian and all waterways within our operations through the maintenance and restoration of buffer zones. One of our riparian buffers is currently providing a relatively healthy habitat for populations of the endangered species of Proboscis Monkeys, which are only found in Borneo.
Education goes a long way to preserving biodiversity. We inculcate conservation virtues and policies in our people and train them in HCVF management concepts. We also enforce practices to stop illegal wildlife trade and game meat consumption.