The NSS Conservation Policy
The National Speleological Society believes:
Accordingly, the intention of the Society is to work for the preservation of
caves with a realisitic policy supported by effective programs for: the
encouragement of self-discipline among cavers; education and research
concering the causes and prevention of cave damage; and special projects,
including cooperation with other groups similarly dedicated to the
conservation of natural areas. Specifically:
- Caves have unique scientific, recreational, and scenic values
- These values are endangered by both carelessness and intentional vandalism
- These values, once gone, cannot be recovered
- The responsibility for protecting caves must be formed by those who study and enjoy them.
All contents of a cave -- formations, life, and loose deposits -- are
significant for their enjoyment and interpretation. Therefore, caving
parties should leave a cave as they find it. They should provide means for
the removal of waste; limit marking to a few, small, and removeable signs as
are needed for surveys; and, especially, exercise extreme care not to
accidentally break or soil formations, disturb life forms or unnecessarily
increase the number of disfiguring paths through an area.
Scientific collection is professional, selective, and minimal. The
collecting of mineral or biological material for display purposes, including
previously broken or dead specimens, is never justified, as it encourages
others to collect and destroy the interest of the cave.
The Society encourages projects such as:
Where there is reason to believe that publication of cave locations will
lead to vandalism before adequate protection can be established, the Society
will oppose such publication.
- Establishing cave preserves
- Placing entrance gates where appropriate
- Opposing the sale of speleothems
- Supporting effective protective measures
- Cleaning and restoring over-used caves
- Cooperating with private cave owners by providing them knowledge about
their cave and assisting them in protecting their cave and property from
damage during cave visits
- Encouraging commercial cave owners to make use of their opportunity to
aid the public in understanding caves and the importance of their
It is the duty of every Society member to:
Take personal responsibility for spreading a consciousness of the cave
conservation problem to each potential user of caves. Without this, the
beauty and value of our caves will not long remain with us.
For more information on cave conservation, check out the
The NSS Conservation Division
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Last Modified: February 8, 2017
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