Conservation & Access Committee

This page is about the Conservation & Access Committee. For more general information check out the Conservation & Access pages.

About

The C&A is one of the BCA’s Standing Committees, who meet as necessary to discuss matters relating to national cave conservation and access. As a Standing Committee, it is available to a voting representative of each of the BCA’s Constituent Bodies and Regional Councils.

The C&A Officer is the C&A Committee convenor and is a voting member of BCA Council.

Nationally, where free and open access is not available, cave access is administered by the various Regional Councils or Access Controlling bodies, who typically serve as a liaison between landowners and cavers. Access varies across all these different regions, from entirely open unrestricted access, to making a courtesy call on the landowner (e.g. farmer), applying in advance for a ‘permit’, right up to some of the most restricted sites where caves are locked and/or access is on a leader-only basis. Access in each of these situations may be available to all individuals or just caving clubs, and is sometimes restricted to BCA members due to our membership insurance benefits.

The BCA does not typically participate or interfere with these access arrangements unless specifically invited to do so. We leave individual regions to work in the best interests of their local cavers.

The BCA C&A Committee focus on more national initiatives, such as our ongoing campaigns to have caving recognised nationally as an allowable activity on open access land (our CRoW campaign). The C&A Committee will look to overcome national barriers to cave and countryside access, through campaigning to Government bodies and landowners and agencies, building beneficial relations with like-minded organisations and supplying funding for cave access initiatives nationally.

Likewise, although lots of hands-on cave conservation work is organised and performed regionally, the BCA looks to oversee this on a national level, including coming up with agreed standards (such as the Minimal Impact Caving Guidelines, developed in collaboration with Natural England), funding conservation initiatives, and circulating important information.

BCA Caving Code

A simplified six-point code for cave conservation:

  • 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.

Documents

  • Minimal Impact Caving Guidelines
    A thought-provoking document on how we can all, as cavers, help ensure the minimal impact on the caves we visit. This should be read by all cavers and circulated as widely as possible within clubs and organisations. This is our national standard.
  • CRoW Policy Statement
    At present, Government agencies have expressed their opinion that caving is not considered ‘open air’ recreation and as such is not covered by the Countryside Rights of Way (CRoW) Act 2000. The BCA, backed up by professional opinions, disagrees with this, and feels that this is totally against the spirit of what the CRoW Act was meant to achieve, i.e. getting people off the sofa and enjoying outdoor activity. As such, we have this policy document stating our belief that the CRoW Act already covers caving.
  • White Nose Syndrome (Bats)
    Because of the discovery of the fungus Geomyces destructans in Europe, the Fédération Française de Spéléologie workgroup working on White Nose Syndrome (WNS) has published this factsheet to inform European cavers.
  • Bats Underground by the Bat Conservation Trust
    This is intended as a guide for all those who might come across bats underground. It explains why bats use caves and how underground explorers can support bat conservation by being aware of bats and the issues related to them. BCA and its members have permission to use all or part of this document in their own documentation should they require it