January 18, 2017

Methodology for the Identification of High Conservation Value Areas

The information included in HABEaS was analyzed and processed according to the Methodology for the identification of High Conservation Value Areas (HCVA). The concept of High Conservation Value Areas (HCVA) was originally developed by Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to be applied in forest certification, but over the years it has been used in a wide variety of contexts and situations.

In countries where FSC certification is implemented there is a National Interpretation of High Conservation Value Areas, which results from a process of public consultation. By using a standard methodology, that is applied worldwide, HABEaS WebGIS can therefore be extended to any region of the world.

According to the National Interpretations, HCVA are areas of outstanding environmental or social value, that should be protected. The application of this concept is based on the identification of a number of conservation values, that if present imply the identification of an area as an HCVA.

High Conservation Value Forests/Areas:

1. Areas containing globally, regionally or nationally significant concentrations of biodiversity values

1.1. Classified areas, which are the corner stone of biodiversity conservation and are created with the purpose of separating conservation values from threats. This category includes legally classified areas, as well as Important Bird Areas (IBA) (http://www.rspb.com)

1.2. Areas where threatened or endangered species occur, which need protection to ensure the persistence of these species

1.3 Areas where endemic species occur, since the typically restricted range of these species makes very susceptible to threats.

1.4. Areas where seasonal concentrations of species occur, which are critical for the protection of one or more species at some point during their life cycle, which include breeding, mating, feeding or migration areas.

2. Areas of where globally, regionally or nationally significant large landscape level forests exist, since larger areas of habitat tend to have more species than smaller ones. Although extremely important for biodiversity, these areas extremely rare in the Mediterranean Basin.

3. Areas where rare, threatened or endangered ecosystems occur, since their restricted ranges make them more susceptible to threats.

4. Areas that provide critical ecosystem services, such as protection of watersheds, fire prevention, protection against erosion and carbon storage

4.1. Areas important for watershed protection, which have enough vegetation to promote the regulation of the water cycle (aquifer recharge, floods and droughts control, water quality). In this category are included riparian galleries and areas with natural or semi-natural vegetation

4.2. Areas with high risk of erosion

4.3. Areas critical for fire prevention

4.4. Areas important for carbon storage, which store large amounts of carbon and play a crucial role in the struggle against climate change.

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