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BCRA News; August 2020

In this newsletter...

  • Covid-19 and Caving
  • Periodicals
  • BCRA Science Symposium
  • Cave Biology SIG
  • The Tratman Award 2019
  • Cave Studies Booklets
  • 2021: International Year of Caves and Karst
  • BCRA's Facebook page
  • British Cave Science Centre
  • Research Fund
  • Annual General Meeting

For news and information, go to...

  • Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/1485495795064870/
  • Our Calendar: http://bcra.org.uk/calendar
  • Our News Forum: http://bcra.org.uk/forum
  • UKcaving: http://ukcaving.com/board/?board=86.0

Covid-19 and Caving

It seems that the Covid-19 situation will be with us for a while to come. BCRA's planned field meetings for 2020 have all been postponed until next year. Our annual caving conference, Hidden Earth, has also been cancelled.

Our Cave Science Symposium and AGM will take place on 14 November, as planned, although these will both be online events. The AGM will take place via Zoom online conferencing. Please see the AGM notice below.

The web site of the British Caving Association (BCA) contains advice about caving during the covid-19 crisis. The UK's regional caving councils also have advice on their web sites. Please follow the links on the BCA site at http://british-caving.org.uk. Additionally, please check http://caving-library.org.uk for information about access to the British Caving Library.


CREG journal 110 was published at the beginning of June and is available on line and on paper. Issue 111 is on track to be published at the beginning of September.

Cave & Karst Science 47(2) is on track to be issued in August. This will be a special 60-page full colour issue focussing on the Greenland Caves Project and guest-edited by Gina Moseley. If you are not on the mailing list for C&KS and you would like a copy of this issue (?8 plus ?1.50 UK postage), please contact publications-sales@bcra.org.uk. This issue of C&KS will be mailed to all our members and subscribers but, if you have not yet renewed your membership for 2020, you will not be on our list.

BCRA Review 2019 is currently being assembled and will likely be published at the end of October, when members will be able to order a copy online. Free copies of the review are sent to BCRA member clubs, and to our worldwide journal exchange partners.

BCRA Science Symposium

The BCRA Cave Science Meeting 2020 is now confirmed for Saturday November 14th 2020 but will take place using an online portal. It will be hosted by Professor Mike Rogerson at the University of Northumbria.

Although we would very much enjoy contributions that discuss how caves have behaved during the lockdown period, we are open to abstracts on any subject linked to cave and karst science, from professional or amateur researchers. We are expecting to have about 10 talks on the day, and would like to see what you have been doing recently. As in previous years we invite contributions across the cave/karst spectrum including archaeology, biology, geomorphology, hydrology and speleothem science.

Presentation slots are not limited to those with a connection to the UK - this invitation is to all interested cave and karst scientists worldwide. Please do submit an abstract by emailing it to Mike Rogerson (lectures@bcra.org.uk) as soon as possible and by Friday 11 September at the latest (put "BCRA abstract" in the email subject to ensure it goes to the right inbox folder). The template for abstracts is available on our News Forum at http://bcra.org.uk/forum

Attendance will be free, using an online portal (likely Zoom) so participants worldwide are invited, although do be aware that talks will be scheduled for 0900 to 1700 GMT. We are exploring possibilities for a virtual field trip on the 15th November ? more on that later.

Cave Biology SIG

Time is a scare resource, even for the most enthusiastic of volunteers and, unfortunately, the recently-formed special interest group (SIG) for Cave Biology has become dormant, with fears that it might be heading for extinction. However, Andrew Lewington has kindly agreed to attempt to revive the group. Andrew is the author of the 'Cave Life of Britain' web site at http://cambriancavingcouncil.org.uk/cavelife and can now be contacted via bcra-bio@bcra.org.uk.

The Tratman Award 2019

The Tratman Award is given annually for a caving-related, paper-based publication, to recognise excellence and encourage future improvement. The award used to be administered by the Ghar Parau Foundation (GPF) when the GPF was a sub-charity of BCRA, but is now directly awarded by the BCRA. It is usually announced at the annual caving conference, Hidden Earth, but that event is cancelled for this year.

A full announcement, listing all the publications that were considered for the award, can be found on the Darkness Below website at http://darknessbelow.co.uk and in print in Descent. In summary, we are pleased to announce that the winner (by a unanimous vote of the independent judges) is Graham Mullan on behalf of the team producing Caves of Mid-West Ireland.

Mention must also be made here for Graham's involvement with the UBSS Proceedings, a long-term, highly praised and superbly produced academic title devoted to caves and their archaeology and exploration, which itself might have otherwise challenged the other commendations.

The award is recognised with a hand-crafted trophy made annually by artist Ceris Jones, which will be presented at a future date.

Cave Studies Booklets

We have two booklets in the pipeline at the moment, these are 'Exploring the Limestone Landscapes of Arnside and Silverdale', by Phil Murphy, and 'Cave Formation and Development' by John Gunn and Andy Farrant. A further announcement will be made towards the end of the year.

Two previously planned additions to the Cave Studies series, on the Gower peninsula and the Brecon Beacons have unfortunately been considerably delayed by a lack of volunteer effort, but we are taking steps to get these back on track.

2021: International Year of Caves and Karst

The UIS (International Union of Speleology) has designated 2021 as the International Year of Caves and Karst (IYCK). BCRA and BCA are partners in this project and 2021 should see a number of projects and activities in Britain. We will issue more details towards the end of the year. See http://iyck2021.org

BCRA's Facebook page

Our Facebook page is seeing an ever-increasing number of readers ? over 1500 at the last count ? and is becoming more important as a news outlet for BCRA. As with all forms of social media the Facebook page will only be successful if members post material likely to be of interest to readers.

British Cave Science Centre

As reported in March 2020 the British Cave Monitoring Centre (the joint BCRA-Buxton Civic Association facility at Poole's Cavern, Buxton) has been re-named to the British Cave Science Centre (BCSC). Andi Smith has started to put together a web site at http://cave-science.org.uk .

Due to the Coronavirus Poole's Cavern has been closed to visitors since March, but the monitoring equipment continues to transmit readings to BCRA's web server and these have provided insights into the cave climate under natural (no visitor) conditions. With the consent of the Cave Manager it has been possible for the BCRA Chairman to visit the cave to check instruments. Provisional plans are in place to re-open Poole's Cavern soon but these are subject to approval by statutory authorities.

Research Fund

The awards panel for BCRA's Cave Science and Technology Research Fund (CSTRF) has had two of changes of members. In January John Gunn has resigned from the panel and been replaced as Chair by Andrew Chamberlain. Additionally, long-standing panel member Nick Williams resigned in May and BCRA Council has appointed Andrew McLeod to take his place.

Annual General Meeting

The BCRA AGM will be on 14 November at midday during the annual Cave Science Meeting. It seems unlikely that conferences will be permitted in the foreseeable future so we have made the decision that both the symposium and the AGM will be online events. The AGM will make use of the video conferencing application, Zoom. BCRA Council has considered this carefully and is of the view that an online AGM is not only possible, but could work well, and would not go against our constitution.

If any member wishes to attend, you are strongly advised to familiarise yourself with Zoom in advance. We will try to offer a demonstration event a few days before the AGM. If you wish to take part in such an event, please check our news outlets for an announcement. To be clear - especially for those who are not used to online participation in meetings ? just as your car breaking down would not be a reason to invalidate the AGM, your failure to properly log in to the meeting will not invalidate it either, so if you are unsure about the process, please consider attending the 'test' event.

The deadline for agenda items is three weeks before the date of the meeting, i.e. Friday 23 October. The deadline for nominations of BCRA Council members for 2021 is the end of September.