The European Cave Protection Commission of the European Speleological Federation (FSE) is an initiative for the preservation of speleological patrimony in whole Europe. The European speleological community includes a vast variety of about 50.000 cavers in all the caving nations from all over Europe. All of them are combined by their common passion to the underground. Since the exploring, the surveying and the scientific work in geology, hydrology, archaeology, paleontology, climatology, biology and other disciplines are taking place in the dark of the underground, caves and speleology are unfortunately still a minor topic for the public.
But first of all caves are fascinating and worth protecting ecosystems. This speleological and natural heritage is worth to be preserved for the next generations as it combines the natural and historical past with our present.
For the human kind they are simply one of the last places on earth, one can still discover like a whole new planet. And this spirit of research keeps all of the speleologists going caving all the year along being underground in Europe.
But this underground world faces many anthropogenic hazards nowadays - quarries, road / building construction, contamination with pollutants and many more. These are cases, which occur in many countries and require big efforts of the local speleological communities, sometimes far beyond their opportunities.
Recognising that these local cases are an indication of missing knowledge about the worthy of protection for this part of our environment, the idea to work on cave protection at a European level arose. The European Cave Protection Commission of the European Speleological Federation (FSE) was founded. The commission consists of members from more than 15 countries at the moment and several other countries declared their interest. All of them are speleologists since long time and work on cave protection in their own countries beside their engagement on the European level.
The mission of the European Cave Protection Commission (ECPC)
To identify collective activities, to put “cave protection” to a priority level within the EU concerns of preservation habitats, species, geotopes, caves as cultural sites and karst and pseudokarst as protected areas.
The aim of the European Cave Protection Commission is also to combine the single efforts of local speleologists and national speleological associations to an international active group, which encourage the European praxis on cave and karst protection. Furthermore local and national activities shall be encouraged and supported by the commission in order to assist the European speleologists in their interaction with public authorities.
To give cave protection a long-term basis, the European Cave Protection Commission regards the collaboration with the European Commission as essential as well as the support of interaction of their representatives and the speleological federations with the national governments. Moreover the co-operation with non-governmental organisations shall be encouraged.
The European Cave Protection Commission has set the following objectives for their activities:
political cave protection
Establishing the European Cave Protection Commission as main contact for cave and karst protection for all European countries
applied cave protection
Providing information about cave and karst protection in Europe and its implementation for public authorities, speleological organizations, non-governmental organizations and others