Cave conservation is the protection and restoration of caves to prevent or minimise the effects of human activities.
Some caves have delicate features that can be disturbed by changes in light levels, humidity, temperature or air flow. Caves that have lighting that remains on are prone to having algae grow within the cave changing the appearance and ecology. Speleothems grow as a result of water both on cave surfaces and the humidity of the cave air. Changes to these because of a high number of visitors, changes to the cave air flow and changes to the hydrology will alter speleothem development.
Speleothems can have a slow growth rate and therefore removing them as souvenirs or breakage due to movement within the cave will be visible for a long time, often throughout several generations of human interaction.
The use of calcium carbide for lamps has led to soot marks and deposits of discarded spent carbide. Using electric lamps avoids these problems.
The New Zealand Speleological Society (NZSS), a recreational caving organisation, promotes cave conservation by its members. The Department of Conservation (DoC) is responsible for caves on land under its administration and has developed a management policy for caves and karst. DoC publish a "Caving care code" which is in turn based in part on the caving ethics of NZSS.
The British Cave Research Association administers the United Kingdom Cave Conservation Emergency Fund (UKCCEF), a charitable fund for protection of caves and cave features. The aims are:
The National Caving Association has a Cave Conservation Code with the following recommendations:
The National Speleological Society believes:
Also involved in cave conservation are the:
The National Cave Research and Protection Organization is formed to protect the caves and explore the caves scientifically to know them better.