Original paper

Legal Status of caves and karst areas

Middleton, Gregory J.


Caves and karst may be found within or be placed under a variety of land tenures around the globe ranging from state or public land, through traditional or native land to private or freehold land. These may be subject to local variations and constraints such as whether or not minerals are included, depth restrictions and the effects of planning ordinances. Mining legislation generally facilitates extraction of minerals with scant provision for conservation or even recognition of geological heritage or geodiversity. Reservation in some form generally provides the most effective means of conserving and promoting geodiversity, including caves and karst, despite a tendency for geodiversity to be overlooked in favour of biodiversity. In recent years a number of international instruments, such as the Ramsar and World Heritage conventions and the Geopark concept have become available, these may enhance the conservation and bene cial development of cave and karst sites.


protected areasgeoparksland tenureworld heritageramsarreserves