European cavers in a joint effort

Jan 28, 2020

Dear friends, in front of you is the first international register of polluted caves! Although still in its infancy, through open collaboration we want to create an extensive list of endangered underground sites across Europe. As cavers, we are deeply aware of the importance of preserving pristine karst habitats, yet the public is largely unaware of the richness that lies beneath. “Our issues” are rarely covered by mainstream media and are far from the focus of political interest. Through the Clean Up the Dark project we want to raise awareness of the problem of cave pollutionin order to educate, to promote action and spark change in environmental policies regarding karst protection.

At this point, the Clean Up the Dark database includes three national datasets. We also feature cleaned sites so we can better grasp the magnitude of the problem and track our progress in dealing with what lies before us. Croatia and Slovenia clearly demonstrate the proportions of the pollution in the Dinaric region, which is widely considered a cradle of karst science and a biodiversity hotspot. Italian data tells a story of a long tradition of cave clean up, organized by local caving communities and it sets a great example for us all. Unfortunately, the polluted caves of Italy are largely unknown, so the extent of the problem is yet to be uncovered…

Let these data be an incentive to us all to share information to the benefit of our beloved karst underground. We all know there is a problem – given some time and trust, we can start solving it together. Let’s clean up the dark!