In accordance with RSPO rules, land is only planted when it has been subject to an independent social impact assessment and has been independently certified as not having a high conservation value ("HCV"). The Group's policy is to ensure that any new development, including development for scheme smallholders, only takes place in heavily degraded areas which are neither forested nor suitable habitats for endangered species.

The Group believes adherence to the RSPO's standards and procedures ensures it does not contribute to any deforestation and does not endanger any species of conservation concern, notably those on the IUCN (International Union of the Conservation of Nature) red list. Notably, the Group applies the same standards to the smallholder schemes attached to its areas as those it applies to its own areas. It is the Group's policy that HCV assessments are only carried out by assessors accredited to the HCV Resource Network's Assessor Licensing Scheme.