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Cave Conservation Code

Cave Respect and Preservation Guidelines

Cave with Caution, Within Your Capabilities:

Avoid recklessness as a moment of carelessness, perhaps due to fatigue, can harm formations and sediment deposits that have endured for millennia. Always exercise caution and inspect before touching or treading. When leading a group, ensure the planned trip aligns with the abilities of all participants.

Follow Designated Routes; Respect Conservation Markings:

Suggested routes within caves may be marked, and areas or entire passages may be cordoned off to safeguard formations, items of scientific significance, or pristine cave sections for future generations. Stay on the designated side of any tape or barrier, adhere to the established route, and when uncertain, exercise caution before proceeding.

Preserve Cave Ecosystems; Avoid Disturbing Bats:

Caves host a variety of creatures, often unnoticed by passing cavers. The cave environment is delicate; exercise care not to disrupt it, for example, by discarding food or contaminating water. Bats, some of Britain's most endangered species, enjoy special legal protection. When encountered in a cave, leave them undisturbed, passing quietly and swiftly.

Maintain a Litter-Free Environment; Leave No Traces:

Except under extraordinary circumstances, nothing brought into a cave should ever be left behind. Remove all litter, food, and waste. Due to the environmental hazards posed by carbide lamps, electric lighting is now preferred.

Respect Archaeological and Scientific Remains:

Cave environments often harbor important paleontological and archaeological artifacts, including items from industrial and pre-industrial eras. Such remains should remain undisturbed and only examined by qualified specialists.

Preserve Scientific Equipment:

Cave exploration often requires the placement of expensive and fragile equipment underground. Disturbing this equipment can result in damage and the loss of valuable research.

Set an Exemplary Standard:

Passing on sound conservation practices to others is facilitated through education and leading by personal example. Be responsible, exhibit an interest and understanding of caving, and demonstrate adherence to the cave conservation code.

Avoid Disturbing or Damaging Formations:

Resist the temptation to touch formations, no matter how alluring they may appear. Physical contact can soil these formations. While a single touch may seem harmless, the cumulative impact of many hands can irreparably mar beautiful formations. Keep in mind that formations may not always be comprised of pretty crystals; they may be mud, sand, or rock, and all should be treated with the same respect.

"Take Only Photographs":

With the exception of litter carelessly left behind, nothing should be removed from a cave. Broken formations and geological specimens, including rocks, should be left undisturbed.

Adhere to Access Requirements:

Different caves have specific rules governing access and behavior. These rules are designed to support cave conservation, and all cavers should contribute by following these guidelines. Group leaders should ensure that the entire group comprehends and adheres to these rules.

Respect Landowners' Rights and Privacy:

All cave entrances are located on privately-owned land. Cavers may sometimes have special access arrangements with conservation authorities, but more often, access relies on the goodwill of landowners. Remember that landowners retain the right to deny access. Show respect for their privacy and adhere to any access conditions, as non-compliance may risk access for all.


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