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The IAPG White Paper on Responsible Speleology

This document sets goals that are reflected within the context of geoethical activities in speleology (speleoethics). This includes highlighting of scientific and educational factors, technical considerations, characteristics and values of subterranean georesources. Bearing in mind the significant vulnerability of subterranean karst environments. It is necessary to have an up to date, complete, and comprehensive understanding of potential anthropogenic impacts that can occur to geological, sedimentological, climatological, hydrological and biological components of caves and host karst systems. Within scientific peer-reviewed publications, there is little available on this topic. For this reason, this document proposes guidelines on how individuals should behave within caves. Which regulations and standards should be respected, as well as what measures should be taken in order to achieve maximum protection of caves. Furthermore, the pursuit of networking across speleological associations and the modernisation of multidisciplinary cooperation that should adhere to set geoethical strategies for speleoethics, is an important goal of this document. Mostly, because of geoethics, speleoethics can ensure objectivity and the improvement of ethically-responsible behavior towards caves and host karst. Also creating a unique approach for all individuals and interested communities to geoethical codes in speleology, is a crucial value to further gain and understand knowledge about caves and karst. Providing enhanced conservation management and protection of nature’s subterranean accessible environments is the goal.

Note – This White Paper by no means dictates who should, or who should not enter caves, including frequency of visitation. This document should be seen as enhancing educational behaviours within caves, to further highlight the importance of this sensitive habitat and its supporting karst biosphere.

The White Paper on Responsible Speleology has been drafted by the IAPG - Task Group on Responsible Speleology.

Drafting Committee: Mike Buchanan, Oana Teodora Moldovan, Aleksandar Antić

Reviewed by: Caroline Lessio Cazarin, Rodrigo Lopes Ferreira, Murray Macgregor, Peter T. Bobrowski & Other Anonymous Experts.

Approved by the IAPG Executive Council

30th August 2022

How to cite:

Buchanan M., Moldovan O.T., Antić A. (2022). White Paper on Responsibile Speleology. IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics,



IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics:

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