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Tuesday, 30 May 2017
 
 
Conservation Print E-mail

CAVE CONSERVATION by Stu Gardiner
Caves are one of the most fascinating environments known to Man where it is still possible to participate in original exploration. They have taken thousands of years to evolve their fantastic shapes, and crystal & clay formations.

Long slender straws, just able to support their own weight, and solid, stumpy stalagmites arrayed across the rocky floor are just two types of calcite formations that may greet a visitor to this unique natural world.  Untrampled clay floors remain as pristine as the day ancient floodwaters last receded.  A world that, whether you are the first to enter or not, will leave an unforgettable impression.


Unfortunately, very few people are able to experience this remarkable environment so it is imperative that all our caves stay as undamaged as possible to ensure their conservation for future visitors.

 

Active stream passages and potholes with fast moving water may have very little that can be accidentally damaged by the passage of a caver, but fossil cave passages where streams never flow are likely to contain all sorts of delicate remains that could easily be damaged by the path of a single thoughtless caver.

 

Where there is a risk of artificial damage, whilst passing delicate straw stalactites, or sand banks, or a crystal pool for example, you should slow down, look carefully around and take extreme care.

 

Some caves may have specially fragile areas marked out by tapes to show the best route through to avoid damage; make sure you respect these.

 

Touching formations will leave a fine film of grease from your hands or mud from your clothes and this will dirty them for good, so try to ensure you keep clear. 
 

There are only a few rare and endangered animals which can manage to live in British caves, so, if you are lucky enough to spot them, don't disturb bats or other cave life.

 

Sometimes cave scientists may have equipment installed in a cave; don't interfere with it if you do come across this.


Leave no litter or pollution and don't take anything out of a cave except your own or others' rubbish.
 Keep your party size appropriate to the cave you are visiting and cave with caution because groups which are too large, or where someone is hurrying to keep up, are the most likely to do accidental damage.

The national Cave Conservation Code is in the BCA Handbook and on the website. Also on the website are details of the Cave Conservation Handbook and Cave Conservation Policy.

  by Stu Gardiner

  

 

 
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