Caves may contain fragile environments which have taken thousands of years to form.
Some caves are quite robust whilst other are very delicate. Care is needed to avoid lasting damage and all cavers should be guided by the Cave Conservation Code:
Cave with care and thought for the environment
A moment of carelessness, perhaps caused by fatigue, can ruin formations and sediment deposits that are thousands of years old. Always look before you touch or tread.
Disturb nothing whether living or geological
Many creatures live in caves and often go unnoticed by passing cavers. The environment is fragile and care must be taken not to disturb it by, for example, dropping food or polluting water. Bats are among some of Britain's most endangered species and are given special protection in law. If seen in a cave they should be left alone and passed as quickly and quietly as possible.
Avoid touching formations
It is sometimes tempting to touch formations because they look so inviting. This should be avoided because the formations will be soiled. Each individual caver may notice no difference from a single touch but hundreds or even thousands of grubby fingers will completely ruin beautiful formations. It should be remembered that formations are not always made of pretty crystals; they may be mud, sand or rock and all should be treated with the same respect.
Keep to marked routes and never cross conservation tapes
Recommended routes through may be marked and areas of the cave or sometimes whole passages may be taped off to protect formations, items of scientific interest or simply to preserve untrodden areas of cave for future generations. Stay on the correct side of the tape, keep to the route and if in doubt, don't proceed.
Take nothing but photographs
Nothing, except for litter left by the careless, should ever be removed from a cave. Broken formations and other geological specimens including rocks should be left untouched.
Do not pollute the cave – leave nothing behind
Except under exceptional circumstances, nothing that is taken into a cave should ever be left in. Take out all litter, food and waste.