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Extreme Conservation?

adam

Member
Ian Adams said:
It was suggested elsewhere (words to the effect) what is the point of conservation if you cannot see it?  I could re-word and ask, is there beauty in something you cannot see?

That suggestion prickled me as well. Of course there is beauty in what you can't see, it's just there to be appreciated by someone other than yourself. Further, many people would say that nature (including caves) has an intrinsic value which is unrelated to their potential for economic exploitation or human gratification.

As a slight aside, I often wonder if the reason people drop litter is because they have no intention of revisiting that site, so don't place a value on it once it has been seen and enjoyed by them... but that's probably trying to assign logic where there is none.
 

Ian Adams

Well-known member
Kenilworth,

Having read and re-read your last reply (up), would it be reasonable to conclude that it is your opinion that each cave should be looked at on a "one by one" basis" as to the merits of whether (and how) to conserve/explore?

If it is, we are certainly one step closer to clarification and understanding of your conservational values.

Probably, we all have such an opinion. It will be where the line is drawn that changes (we'll come back to that).

Right so far?

Ian
 

corax

New member
Consider the other local caves for a moment. the excavations in these had been at best, well documented archaeological digs, at worse, exploitation by bone hunters.
In both cases the glacial sediments where considered at least unimportant and at most a hindrance to their aims and removed without much thought to the geological value of these sediments and as such little to no effort was made to document the sediments themselves.

As such, whilst the cave may hold a potential archaeological value, due to the loss of other local examples of glacially filled caves it's geological value should be considered greater and thus worthy of conservation against inconsiderate excavation.

Excavation could well be carried out considerately, perhaps if arrangements where made for excavations to be conducted under the guidance of an academic, i.e. someone who is qualified to offer a professional opinion and thus guidance on how to excavate and document such a site.
 

Kenilworth

New member
  would it be reasonable to conclude that it is your opinion that each cave should be looked at on a "one by one" basis" as to the merits of whether (and how) to conserve/explore?

Absolutely
 

Ian Adams

Well-known member
royfellows said:
I like, too many people around who are only interested in their own.

I understand Roy. It?s a shame though. You posted elsewhere that you had a great interest in ?mine conservation? and that this required (pretty much) an opposite approach to ?cave conservation?. I don?t think your opinion is negated in any way but I do understand your hesitation to express it.


Corax,
I can see you are a member of one of the North Wales clubs and probably know which cave I am talking about. I was trying to avoid being specific (because it is real and I don?t really want to attract attention to it). If you know the other caves and are aware of the recorded findings then maybe your opinion (in this real scenario) is much more pertinent. I certainly agree with your post.


Kenilworth,
Thank you.

The point of ?this? thread is to try to find the elusive lines in the sand. From other threads it certainly appeared that you were at the very far end of the spectrum of conservation (to the point where a cave should not be entered). Now you have agreed that caves should be considered on their own merits. That moves you from the far end of the spectrum to somewhere within it.

In the original post, with the specific cave, I asked (and I know you did answer);

Ian Adams said:
The questions then beg themselves (accepting landowner wishes are paramount);

A) Given that ?nature? has already caused (significant) damage, is the need for conservation mitigated?
B) Is the scientific importance of exploration increased because of the (increasing) natural destruction?
C) Is the scientific importance of exploration increased because of the nearby findings of the ancient historical use of such caves?
D) Does conservation trump exploration/science in this instance?
E) What other factors should be considered in this scenario?


Let us consider ONLY point ?A? (again, we?ll get back to the rest). We?ll generalise it because everyone has an opinion and they are all valuable (of equal value?) and I believe it will help to put down a footstone.

The question now becomes with regards to any cave (addressed to any person);

Given that ?nature? has already caused (significant) damage, at what point is the need for conservation mitigated in favour of exploration/scientific research/recording of information etc?


Ian
 

cavemanmike

Well-known member
i would be interested to know why glacial sediment outways the importance of the WHOLE cave.
i can see it has value for research , would it not be of greater benefit to remove some sediment whilst leaving a cross section exposed for investigation . in the meantime the removed sediment could be stored for a later date or researched immediately whilst the rest of the cave could be be explored/investigated (sympathetically)of coarse
just a thought 
 

Kenilworth

New member
Given that ?nature? has already caused (significant) damage, at what point is the need for conservation mitigated in favour of exploration/scientific research/recording of information etc?

Never. But conservation needs will shift from one resource to another. As I said earlier, science, digging, exploration, and documentation can all be practiced with care. Conservation can mean lots of things. It can mean use, as in the case of a sediment threatened with obliteration. Scientific use in this case is conservation, as it protects the thing of value from wasteful depletion. Deliberate and purposeful destruction is conservation if the only alternative is aimless and wasteful destruction.

Too many people mistakenly equate conservation with preservation (which it may include), or with avoiding impact. This is perhaps why many of my posts have been so wildly misunderstood. My ideas about conservation have never suggested that caves in general should not be entered, but that caving organizations do not equip people to "consider caves on their own merits," which I think we both agree is part of the foundation of conserving anything.

But maybe you were asking when the balance shifts from conserving speleogenic or aesthetic resources to conserving (by carefully using) scientific or exploratory resources? I cannot answer that question, especially if the cave is in Wales. I can only make that decision for caves that I know personally, and even then I will not always make the right one. It is too often after the fact that we realize the quality of our decisions, which is why I am trying to learn to take them more seriously (many of you say too seriously) before I act.
 

Ian Adams

Well-known member
Very interesting reply.

To be more specific;


Kenilworth said:
Never. But conservation needs will shift from one resource to another. As I said earlier, science, digging, exploration, and documentation can all be practiced with care.

and

Kenilworth said:
Too many people mistakenly equate conservation with preservation (which it may include), or with avoiding impact. This is perhaps why many of my posts have been so wildly misunderstood.

These two statements (in my opinion) demonstrate very clearly that your previous posts have been misinterpreted or mis-understood (by people (including myself) in the UK).

If we (as cavers) are to have a meaningful debate, we need to understand how to communicate. There are clearly differences in the manner in which you (or the USA?) define ?words? and the way in which they are interpreted (in the UK). That is no fault of yours (or ours) but I think is it now recognisable.

For instance; you use the word ?resource? when referring to caves. In the UK we would more generally use the word as meaning something that has a purposeful use or value.  You appear to be using in a different context. (no one at fault in my opinion).

Similarly, you are making a distinction between conservation and preservation which may have escaped readers attention (it escaped mine).

I will try to post in a more generic manner which will (hopefully) be less liable to be interpreted differently to the intention.

Importantly, you appear to be saying that it is perfectly ok to enter cave where (and I am taking your words above) science, digging, exploration, and documentation can all be practiced with care.

Does my understanding accord with yours correctly so far ?

Ian

 

Kenilworth

New member
For instance; you use the word ?resource? when referring to caves. In the UK we would more generally use the word as meaning something that has a purposeful use or value.  You appear to be using in a different context. (no one at fault in my opinion).

The word resource has a scary history of use, and I do not like to use it at all. But I mean the same thing you do. Cave resources are extremely varied, and can be aesthetic, scientific, cultural, recreational, spiritual, exploratory, culinary, agricultural, commercial and more. The task of assigning proper value to each and then using them without wastefulness, as is appropriate per particular cave, is the difficult job of every conservationist.

A strict preservationist can serve the purposes of future conservation, but is a coward, in my opinion. Preservation has its place, but to make it an obsession is to remove oneself from the processes of the world, and to absolve oneself from difficult thought.

Importantly, you appear to be saying that it is perfectly ok to enter cave where (and I am taking your words above) science, digging, exploration, and documentation can all be practiced with care.

Does my understanding accord with yours correctly so far ?

Of course.

 

droid

Active member
Perhaps it is now time to define the term 'conservation'.

Because if it can't be defined, this discussion is going to be infinite: everyone will have their personal definition.

And well done Ian for your lucid and compact posts. For those of us with a 2-minute attention span it's a great relief.

:)

 

Kenilworth

New member
Conservation? My dictionary says "protection against loss or depletion". Note that this definition does not say protection against impact or change or use. Since there are many of things in need of conservation, and since some of them are seemingly at odds with one another, what conservation practically means will, yes, be different for everyone.

The second entry under preservation says, "keeping in unaltered condition; maintain in an unchanged form," which is the aim of certain preservationist groups, and very different from ideal conservation.

 

droid

Active member
Kenilworth said:
Conservation? My dictionary says "protection against loss or depletion". Note that this definition does not say protection against impact or change or use.

It doesn't 'say' a lot of things.

Let's concentrate on what it DOES say. 

What sort of 'loss and depletion' takes place when people use caves for their recreation? How can this be prevented/ameliorated?

Your solution is, as I understand it, not to use them. And it's a pretty logical solution, if rather ....errrr....*extreme*.

Have I interpreted your missives correctly? Please remember my 2-minute attention span, especially after a night shift at work....
 

Kenilworth

New member
droid said:
Have I interpreted your missives correctly?

You have not.

If applied universally, abstinence from caving for conservation purposes is not logical. And it is not conservation, because in protecting one thing we are losing another. Conservation is not about preservation per se, it is about wisely determining relative values.

 

droid

Active member
So when you were railing about the encouragement of people to go caving, implying it was 'a bad thing', that wasn't saying that people should not use caves?
 

Kenilworth

New member
Certainly not, as a careful reading would have revealed.

I understand that some may not have the time or interest or patience to read and think along with a handful of paragraphs. This is ok. It also means that those same people are not qualified to pillory the author


 

droid

Active member
I will admit that I'm not one to go through massive posts with a fine-tooth comb, hence asking for clarification in a more concise form. And I'd suggest I'm not alone in that.

So.

What *were* you suggesting?
 

Kenilworth

New member
It's in the massive posts, with examples and justifications and possible questions and answers. I haven't been able to cook the entire concept down to a few tidy lines.




 

pwhole

Well-known member
This one wasn't bad as a concise summary of one point at least, in the Stagnation of Caving thread - it can be done  :ang:
But I think that caves are too singular and irreparable to be used as mere gyms.
http://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=21411.msg272271#msg272271

Also noted the differences in language use between the UK and US, and it does often cause problems, especially in text-only communications. I used to write software manuals occasionally, and eventually trained myself to stop writing colour with a 'u', as 95% of our customers were US-based, and 'color' appeared about 50 times on every page. When I added up all those 'u's, I realised how much time I was saving annually! Now I have to continually think about putting it back in texts (mainly so as not to upset Pitlamp!), but I'm aware that cultural usage of many terms and phrases are different - as I've worked with a lot of Americans, I guess I'm more familiar.
 

droid

Active member
Kenilworth said:
It's in the massive posts, with examples and justifications and possible questions and answers. I haven't been able to cook the entire concept down to a few tidy lines.

Occam's Razor.
 

JasonC

Well-known member
droid said:
I will admit that I'm not one to go through massive posts with a fine-tooth comb, hence asking for clarification in a more concise form.

With respect, if you can't take the trouble to find out what the man is saying, how do you know you disagree with him ?

It's just a forum, if it takes someone 10 paragraphs to express what they think and it's not sufficiently interesting for you to read and digest, you do have the option of ignoring him. ;)
 
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