SIGNIFICANCE AND MONITORING
R. Armstrong L. Osborne - (31/1,2002)
An inventory survey followed by a significance assessment process, are essential precursors to any cave monitoring program. Monitoring must not be seen as an end in itself, but as part of an integrated, significance-based management process. It is essential to know what is significant, the conditions necessary to maintain its significance and that the condition and integrity of significant elements are being maintained. For instance, if the significance of a mud deposit is not known, monitoring the condition of speleothems will not stop the mud deposit from being destroyed by high-pressure water cleaning. Similarly, there is little point in monitoring temperature if dust is the main threat to the significant elements. The only way to know that monitoring of environmental conditions is effective is to monitor the ongoing condition and integrity of the significant elements themselves. Without this, lots of interesting data could be collected while the most important features of the cave are lost. Monitoring should therefore address the conditions necessary for the maintenance of significance and the ongoing condition and integrity of significant elements.