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HCVF.RU: Four years protecting the most valuable forests of Russia

19 december 2017
The end of December will mark the fourth anniversary of hcvf.ru – a unique global database of high conservation value forests.

The development of the website was supported by WWF-Russia through the WWF-IKEA Partnership on Forests with support from other sponsors and in participation with other NGOs. This website is designed as a universal tool to support the conservation and sustainable management of the most valuable forests and identify their boundaries. It has also become a useful tool for logging companies – in particular for those which are FSC certified, and for nature conservation NGOs and certification bodies as well.

High conservation value forests (HCVF) are forests which are of outstanding significance or critical importance due to their high biological, ecological, social or cultural values. Conservation of valuable forests and the wildlife in them is one of the key objectives of WWF-Russia.

To help companies to determine the boundaries and conserve the most ecologically and socially valuable forests within their leased areas, WWF-Russia together with other NGOs and environmental activists have been collecting, consolidating and digitizing the limited, disaggregated and poorly accessible information, which in many cases is scattered across paper sources, in order to create a digital database that is unprecedented in scale. At the end of 2013 the first results became available on-line at hcvf.ru.

“We are constantly improving the interface, algorithms and uploading the new data. At the end of last month we uploaded Forest Pathology Inspection Acts for the whole Russia – there is no any other consolidated source of this information in the country. Moreover, many experts who need this information for their work did not know before that it is freely available. This particular data is valuable for nature conservationists for public monitoring of HCV sites management”, noted Konstantin Kobyakov, the lead development and manager of the project, WWF-Russia’s Forest Program Expert on HCVF.

(с) Anatoly Kabanets / WWF-Russia
(с) Gennady Alexandrov
IFL flagging expedition, Dvinsko-Pinezhsky forest landscape // (с) Yuri Shiryaevsky
(с) Alexander Plekhanov

In addition to its key objective the website also serves several additional functions. For example, it helps logging companies to increase the effectiveness of their HCVF management systems and control their suppliers as a part of their due diligence systems; it helps auditors to verify implementation of FSC requirements; it helps NGOs to establish independent monitoring of HCVF and fulfillment of logging ban agreements that they have concluded with logging companies. As an example, the website has helped WWF-Russia’s experts to verify the legality of the allocation of forest plots for logging in the Caucasus and to prove that some of them were sold by local authorities illegally. In addition, the website is considered an official source of information on HCVFs by FSC-Russia and its use by FSC-certified companies could soon become obligatory.

The key sections of the hcvf.ru:

  • HCVF digital maps;
  • Methodologies for the identification of various types of HCV sites;
  • Database of official documents of forest management and territorial planning, endangered species and Red Data Books of regions of Russia and Forest Pathology Inspection Acts for all regions of Russia;
  • Calculator for logging sustainability;
  • Public obligations of logging companies to prevent logging in HCV sites;
  • Contact details of experts, photographic and video materials on HCV sites.

Digital maps function on the basis of web-GIS system GeoMixer developed by Scanex.

Key users of hcvf.ru:

  • Logging companies which wish to know if there are any HCV sites on their leased areas or on the areas they are planning to lease;
  • Non-commercial and state-owned organizations working on development and implementation of criteria for identification and management of HCV sites;
  • Companies wishing to verify that they are not sourcing timber from HCV sites;
  • Certification bodies;
  • Financial institutions and conservation NGOs interested in up-to-date information on HCV sites in Russia.

If you would like to learn more about the importance of hcvf.ru for the forest sector and how it may be useful to you, please watch the short video which provides a simple explanation of how it works:

HCVF.RU: website about HCV sites

Headline photo: (с) Alexander Plekhanov 
For additional information please contact
High Conservation Value Forest Projects Coordinator