UIS Code of Ethics for Cave Exploration and Science
in Foreign Countries

Conservation Section Home

August 1997, Addendum August 2001

[ UIS Home ]

UIS supports international activities of speleological societies, caving groups and karst scientists because they are important for:

  • discovering new caves and extending old caves
  • investigating their contents, for example, minerals, biota and archaeological and anthropological remains
  • distributing knowledge of karst and caves throughout the world
  • enabling the exchange of safe caving practices
  • assisting in the protection and preservation of caves and karst

To avoid misunderstanding by indigenous and local people, government and local and national caving organizations in the country in which the proposed cave exploration or scientific investigation is to take place, the UIS Bureau has prepared the following recommendations.

1. Before leaving your country

In many cases it will be necessary to obtain official permission from the authorities in the country being visited. In addition, inform the national speleological organisation of the country to be visited. If there is no national organisation contact the UIS national delegate.

If possible organise joint expeditions with cavers from the country to be visited. The national speleological organisations will be familiar with the official requirements for visiting expeditions. They will be well-versed in the requirements for the lodging of expedition reports and other published material, and the regulations pertaining to the removal of materials by the expedition from the caves and to other countries for scientific studies.

2. During the expedition

The expedition members should respect the laws of the country and local traditions and understand that some caves may be sacred sites and be of religious and/or cultural significance; exploration and research studies in these caves may be restricted.

The expedition members should not damage either the karst or its caves. They should where possible educate and advise local communities in the protection and preservation of their karst and caves.

3. After the expedition

Samples from the caves and karst collected by the expedition should only be taken out the cave and country if the correct export procedures are followed and their export is permitted.

Copies of all printed material produced by the expedition, together with the location and maps of the caves should be sent to the participating caving clubs and the national speleological organisation and/or the UIS national delegate. Assistance received from the organisations within the country visited should be acknowledged in all the expedition publications.

4. Respect for the work of other groups

Before undertaking an expedition to a region, a group should do research on previous work or current explorations by local or foreign cavers, in order not to interfere with current projects.

Credit for previous explorations should be given in expedition reports.

If several groups happen to be working in the same area, then the opportunity should be taken to learn from each other and to coordinate further work.


Accepted by the UIS General Assembly, Brazil, August 2001

  1. The UIS urges all their Bureau Members and National Delegates, that if they know of any expedition being organized to foreign countries, to immediately contact and inform the National Delegate of the target country.
  2. If a member of the UIS Bureau discovers a violation of its Code of Ethics regarding a foreign expedition, it will contact the delegate of the expeditionís country of origin suggesting that the expedition findings and reports shall not be accepted in their official publications, nor shall they be accepted in any UIS sponsored publication or event.
  3. For expeditions organized by countries of high speleological development to countries of lower speleological development, the expedition group shall do its best to offer transfer of knowledge and promote local speleological activity.

[ Top ] [ UIS Home ]

Site: P. Matthews