Environmental management of tourist caves


A. A. Cigna


Link to Full Text

Download Full Text

Publication Date

June 1993


In terms of the flow of energy or mass, caves may be nearly closed systems. From the perspective of environmental protection and tourist cave management there are three categories: (1) caves where the natural energy fluxes far exceed those created by visitors, with the consequence that their environmental parameters are not affected by development (e.g., caves subject to frequent flooding); (2) caves where natural and tourist energy fluxes are of similar magnitude, where environmental parameters respond to visitors but return to their natural equilibrium afterwards; and (3) caves where visitor fluxes far exceed the natural fluxes, so that natural environmental equilibrium may be destroyed. The aim of responsible management is to limit the introduced fluxes to those that will not destroy the natural equilibrium established in such parameters as temperature, relative humidity, CO2 concentration, etc. A visitor capacity criterion is defined, and measured effects of visitors are demonstrated at Grotte di Castellana and Grotta Grande del Vento, category 2 caves that are the principal tourist caves of Italy.


Tourist Caves, Cave System Energy Levels, Cave Ecosystems

Document Type



Environmental Geology, Vol. 21 (1993-06-01).