The intersection between the two controversial topics of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and high conservation values (HCV) was explored in a side event at the FSC General Assembly. These two themes represent some of the most important work undertaken by FSC, but neither has been consistent in achieving all objectives. A big reason for this is that the work has been undertaken separately.
In the words of Pamela Perrault, FPIC guideline technical writer, “When it comes to forest management, some communities are going to be affected.” In the past, HCV assessments have emphasized scientific methodology at the expense of thorough engagement. The expertise and opinions of Indigenous Peoples must be considered from the very beginning of the assessment process. FPIC should be applied to all HCVs, not just those deemed to be socially or culturally important. John Cathro HCV guideline technical writer, Canada pointed out: “We have to connect principles 3 and 9, we have to break down the current silos among them, because they actually follow the same methodology.”
Pablo Huaiquilao, PIPC member, from Chile, added: “Indigenous Peoples sometimes do not see principles 3 and 9 as related; what they do see, especially the Mapuche People, is that HCVs have a very strong link with communities. And sometimes, audits do not have the capacity of making this bond between traditional Indigenous Rights and HCV. It’s necessary to develop a more sensible approach to communities, and also to rely more on them when we are talking about sustainable forest management.”
In addition, Pamela Perrault remarked on the importance of being willing to work in collaboration with communities, in order to advance the objectives of both these projects.
Regarding this, she commented: “If people were more focused on human perception, technical work could also reflect the conservation of protected areas and villages, home to Indigenous Peoples. In science we make compartments, but sometimes we just need to think about people, and give them the opportunity to voice their opinion about these areas, their homeland. We need to stop making compartments, and invite communities to the table.”
Isabel Garcia Drigo, an HCV technical working group member from Brazil, confirmed the need to engage communities, and to try and provide auditors with focused training, to ensure processes “with another point of view, in order to have a better approach and to avoid overlaps.”
The future for these two unique but interrelated projects looks bright, as FSC ensures the future collaboration between the FPIC technical working group and the HCV technical working group. The results of this collaboration to date includes the guidance document for standard development groups: Developing National HCV Frameworks.
We invite all interested stakeholders to partake in this important process by contributing to our upcoming consultation: Guidance for Standard Development Groups: Developing National High Conservation Value Frameworks.