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National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

Project Description

Most tropical deforestation is caused by the production of internationally traded commodities including oil palm, cattle, and pulp and paper. Many companies involved in these sectors have agreed to eliminate deforestation from their operations and supply chains. Achieving these commitments will require scientifically grounded and commonly agreed upon standards and tools. In the oil palm and timber sectors, the High Carbon Stock (HCS) approach is emerging as the primary methodology for the identification of forests that must be protected as part of a zero-deforestation commitment. Developed through a series of negotiations between NGOs and corporations, the HCS Approach provides transparent and science-based steps to identify biodiverse and carbon-rich forests. However, the HCS approach faces several challenges including: 1) High costs of field surveys that threaten to exclude smallholder producers from zero-deforestation supply chains; 2) Heterogeneous methods that may undermine trust and complicate monitoring; and 3) Limitations in spatial scales that complicate conservation planning. Here, we propose a project to synthesize field observations collected through previously completed HCS assessments. Using this data within Google Earth Engine, we will train a machine learning classifier to predict HCS forests across the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Collaborating with project participants from academia, industry and non-profits, we will conduct scientific analysis to enable 1) greater participation of smallholder producers in zero-deforestation supply chains; 2) higher confidence in the benefits of corporate zero-deforestation commitments; and 3) improved conservation planning through the integration of landscape-scale connectivity assessment. Project outputs will include scientific publications, technical guidelines and a publicly available tool to support transparent, homogenous, and low-cost HCS assessments.

The information here may be out of date, please refer to for more current information.

Working Group Participants

Principal Investigator(s)

Robert Heilmayr, Kimberly Carlson

Project Dates

Start: January 1, 2019

End: December 31, 2020



Patrick Anderson
Forest Peoples Programme
Rebecca Armson
Kemen Austin
RTI International
Reza Azmi
Wild Asia
Peter Bayliss
PT REA Kaltim Plantations
David Burns
National Wildlife Federation
Kimberly Carlson
University of Hawaii, Manoa
Michael Eggen
University of California, Santa Barbara
James T Erbaugh
Dartmouth College
John Garcia-Ulloa
ETH Zurich
Holly Gibbs
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Hedley Grantham
Wildlife Conservation Society
Aida Greenbury
Asia Pulp and Paper Group
Ibrahim Gulagnar Hanifa
Robert Heilmayr
University of California, Santa Barbara
Anthony Hill
Jane Hill
University of York
Clinton Jenkins
University of Tennessee
Felicia Lasmana
Marieke Leegwater
Solidaridad Network
Godwin Limberg
Matthew Luskin
Smithsonian Institution
Timer Manurung
Darto null
Pairan null
Koperasi Unit Desa Teratai Biru
Uki null
Setara Jambi
Charlotte Opal
Gary Paoli
Violace Putri
Solidaridad Network
Grant Rosoman
Greenpeace International
Bernardo Rudorff
Musnanda Satar
The Nature Conservancy
George Schoneveld
Center for International Forestry Research
Sarah Scriven
University of York
Su Sin Sheun
Charlotte Smith
University of Hawaii, Manoa
Edy Sumarmin
Asosiasi Petani Sawit Swadaya Amanah
Laura Vang Rasmussen
University of British Columbia
Paulina Villalpando
High Conservation Value Resource Network (HCVRN)


  1. Journal Article / 2021

    Mapping and Monitoring Zero-Deforestation Commitments