A listed and protected site
Apart from being listed as a Historical Monument in 1995, the State gained ownership of the cave and then built the access area to minimise the impact of traffic along the cliff above it as well as inside route to protect the floors. Since 1995, the State has invested € 4,780,000 in this work.
The remarkable beauty of the natural site of Pont d’Arc justified the decision to list the sites of Combe and Pont d’Arc in 1982, well before the discovery of the cave. This legal protection is the continuation of the law dated 2 May 1930 for the sites, which is based on "general interest".
In order to improve the environmental protection of the cave, which we should not forget had scarce contact with the outside, the listing was extended by decree on 7 January 2013. The site includes the cave and the whole hydrogeological basin.
Setting up the Chauvet Cave Preservation Office
In 2000, the State set up a special preservation department, to take all measures to monitor and organise the preservation of the cave's fragile internal balance. Specialised laboratories were notified and a plan of interventions was drawn up. Permanent climactic relief programmes for the temperature, hygrometry, air composition, atmospheric changes, radon and CO² rates, etc., all serve to manage the cave's balance. The preservation work also includes receiving visit requests, and then organises and schedules them.
This department was run until January 2014 by Dominique Baffier, a heritage curator, and then by her colleague Marie Bardisa. Two assistants, Charles Chauveau and Paulo Rodrigues, support the work of the curator, and the manager of the decorated caves of Ardèche also contributes towards the preservation.
A neighbouring cave about 50 m from Chauvet – Treuil Cave – was prepared as a camp for preservation agents. This measure is understandable as Chauvet Cave is isolated and the first inhabited place is around a 25-minute walk away.
What are the rules for moving around inside the cave?
All "visitors" – researchers, preservation agents, laboratories, maintenance workers, rare guests visitors – have to sign a "behaviour protocol", undertaking to comply with conditions to ensure the preservation of the cave. Everybody should be accompanied by a preservation agent, wear non-woven disposable overalls, and plastic footwear provided by preservation agents; the idea is to limit outside contaminants that could cause the growth of micro-organisms that are harmful for the site's preservation.