Management of Caves


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Publication Date

June 2011


People have used caves in many ways for tens of thousands of years and only recently recognized their recreational, aesthetic, and scientific value. However, this has not prevented their degradation and some suggest the carrying capacity of a cave is effectively zero. Caving results in a variety of impacts on the physical cave environment, although not equally for all caves or every part of the cave, which is then a challenge for management is to correctly evaluate the relative vulnerability of cave passages. These impacts can arise because tourist caves require physical alteration of natural passages, installation of lighting, pathways, platforms, and associated infrastructure. Cave fauna are impacted by alteration of cave hydrology, temperatures, lighting conditions, and carbon dioxide levels. Resulting invasive plants, desiccation of cave formations, and localized sedimentation highlight the need for effective ongoing monitoring of the cave atmosphere, water quality, and particulate deposition. Even scientific researches have impact; therefore, proposed research projects must minimize damage and maximize benefit for all cave stakeholders. Cave inventories are important for documenting valuable cave features, and they also allow for inter-cave comparisons and help with management classification and/or zoning. More enlightened management regimes consider good relations with park neighbors as essential and parks are run using principles of adaptive management. Cave managers should embrace the new management paradigms whilst conserving what are essentially nonrenewable resources.


Cave System, Drip Water, Protected Area Management, Cave Entrance, Cave Environment

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