British Cave Research Association
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The British Cave Research Association (BCRA) is a speleological organisation in the United Kingdom. Its object is to promote the study of caves and associated phenomena, and it attains this by supporting cave and karst research, encouraging original exploration (both in the UK and on expeditions overseas), collecting and publishing speleological information, maintaining a library and organising educational and scientific conferences and meetings.
BCRA is a registered charity in the UK, and a constituent body of the British Caving Association (BCA), undertaking charitable activities on behalf of BCA.
The BCRA arose from a merger in 1973 of the British Speleological Association (BSA) and the Cave Research Group of Great Britain (CRG). When, later, the National Caving Association (NCA) was formed, BCRA became one of its constituent bodies. Although NCA was recognised as the governing body for UK caving by the Sports Council it did not allow individual membership and so BCRA was seen by many as de facto the national body. This situation was resolved in 2005 when NCA was dissolved and a new body, the British Caving Association took over NCA's function as the governing body for UK caving (as recognised by the Sports Council). BCA consolidated various of the 'national body' services formerly provided by NCA and BCRA. At the start of 2006, a new membership structure limited BCRA membership to BCA members, who now pay a supplement to join BCRA.
Having passed on most of its functions to BCA, BCRA is now able to focus entirely on cave science, technology and heritage matters; the latter involving the cataloguing of the vast amount of library and archive material that BCRA has collected over the years.
One of BCRA's main activities is publishing. It publishes two periodicals, Cave & Karst Science and Speleology (The latter is now funded by BCA although BCRA remains the publisher). Prior to 2003, Speleology was published under the title Caves & Caving.
BCRA also publishes the Cave Studies series of booklets and manages various Special Interest Groups that also publish material, notably the Cave Radio & Electronics Group Journal and the newsletter of the Cave Surveying Group, known as Compass Points. In 2008 BCRA launched an online version of Cave & Karst Science.
Conference and meetings
In 1996 the UK's annual caving conference (the 'BCRA Conference') was given a face-lift and re-titled Hidden Earth. Although BCRA still underwrites the event, it is now billed as being jointly hosted by BCRA and BCA.
BCRA hosts an annual Science Symposium at which short papers are informally presented. Contributions are invited on any aspect of cave or karst science or caving technology and abstracts are published in Cave & Karst Science. BCRA has also hosted symposiums on Cave Technology, featuring contributions from its Special Interest Groups.
BCRA manages the British Caving library at Glutton Bridge near Buxton. This comprises a reference section (formerly located in Matlock), an archive section of older material, and a heritage section. Following an agreement with the National Geoscience Data Centre at the British Geological Survey (BGS), the archive material specifically relating to BCRA and its predecessor organisations was moved, in 2009, to BGS for safe-keeping in controlled storage conditions.
The library consists of a large collection of books and journals on caving topics from Britain and abroad, which is frequently updated by donations and by journal exchanges with many caving clubs worldwide. Items received by the editor of Speleology for review are usually deposited in the library afterwards. The library is managed by BCRA on behalf of BCA but ownership of individual items may remain with the donor. For further information see the British Caving Library web site, which includes an on-line catalogue of the collection, and an on-line audio archive.
- "Caves & Caving". British Cave Research Association. Retrieved 2010-12-13.