Most of the caves and potholes in the North of England have SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) status, either for botanical, biological or geological interests. These sites are vulnerable and need to be protected and conserved.
Furthermore, we as cavers want to maintain the excellent reputation that the recreation has for looking after caves and ensuring our passage through them has minimal impact. This helps to ensure the caves can be enjoyed in the same state by future generations.
For all these reasons, cave conservation is a critically important activity, one which is often best undertaken by cavers themselves, and which is one of the most important of all CNCC functions. Cave conservation is not about barring people from caves and imposing unwieldy restrictions; it is about encouraging a duty of care upon all cavers to consider all their actions in a cave and educating them about how best they can avoid any lasting impact on the environment.
In some places damage has already been done (pre-dating many of the current conservation education initiatives). Through conservation works some of this is being put right to enable natural regeneration.
Cave conservation work has been a highly valued and important function of the CNCC for many years. We are lucky enough to have funding available for these projects, volunteers on our mailing list, and excellent collaborations with Natural England and the National Parks. However we are always looking for more people to help out. It is great fun and highly rewarding. If you are interested in getting involved or helping out with some of our conservation projects, please click here to find out more about how to do this and what it involves.
The conservation work itself can take many forms, including surface works on stiles and footpaths, or restoring areas affected by caver traffic. Alternatively, at cave entrances work can involve removal of historic waste, landscaping, stockproofing or construction work to make the entrance safe and stable. Finally, within the caves themselves work can include removal of litter or washed-in debris, restorative works to stal or sediments, documentation, taping, and photographing. Conservation work also covers education and training.
You can help by please taking time to read the British Caving Association Minimum Impact Caving Guidelines. Please ensure this is essential reading (or forms the basis of your own bespoke instructional material) for anyone that either you or your club are introducing to caving.
If you have any questions, require any support for your own conservation project, or have any ideas for CNCC conservation projects, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Cave Conservation Code
- Cave with care and thought for the environment.
- Disturb nothing whether living or geological.
- Avoid touching formations.
- Keep to marked routes and never cross conservation tapes.
- Take nothing but photographs.
- Do not pollute the cave, leave nothing behind.
Contact & Volunteer
If you have any questions about conservation or want to discuss a project you can contact our Conservation Officer - Kay Easton - firstname.lastname@example.org
You can register as a volunteer without any commitment via our online form: